Almunia: are we being honest?

By Walter Broeckx

There is a general feeling among Arsenal fans that Almunia is not good enough.

I am not going to say that Almunia is the best keeper in the world. Ask 100 people all over the world who is the best keeper in the world and you could end up with some 60 different names. So who is a good keeper and who not is a very difficult question to answer.

Is it Casillas ? Is it Buffon ? Is it Akinfeev ?  Is it Cech ? Is it Vander Sar ? Is it… you can add a few names for yourself and I only like to ad names like Lloris, Palop, Given, Jaskulainen, even Gomez… We all can pick our favourite and name him the best.

But what is the difference between Almunia and all those other keepers ?

Well in fact the biggest difference is that we see Almunia play week in week out and the others we see… every now and then. If you see a player every week you always get to know him better and you also see the mistakes he makes. Add to this our passion for The Arsenal and it is obvious that every mistake a keeper from Arsenal makes is like a dagger in our hearts. As it mostly leads to a goal it is always painful to remember and we make a big fuss about it. It is because we care about The Arsenal and we don’t want to see any goal going in. So every  mistake is hard to take and leads to criticism on our goalkeeper.

And yes Almunia makes mistakes. I will be the last to deny it. But I must say that as a former keeper myself I know how hard it is and how easy you can make a mistake and how painful when you concede a goal from your mistakes. It also gives me a bit more insight on what went wrong and what could be done better.

Every keeper has his own personality.  Some are strong on their line, the shot stoppers. Some are commanding in the back area but are not as strong on the line. Some can take any cross and some don’t.  Some could play along in the field and others are not good at kicking the ball at all. But goal keepers who are good at every part are rare and seldom to find. I actually don’t know anyone.

Now if we have to believe some fans Almunia never stops a ball. Maybe this is a bit exaggerated but we all have seen some people commenting like that on blogs. And most of them name any of the names mentioned above and command Wenger to buy his favourite goalkeeper.

Being a goalkeeper with Arsenal is one of the most difficult places in the team.  You stand mostly in the cold for some 85 minutes looking at a game being played far away from your goal. You just have to stay focussed and try to keep warm for that sudden counter attack that comes your way or that high ball up in the air from the other goal keeper. If you have to stop 5 shots in a game you had a busy day.  These are the most difficult games and I know this by experience. If you are constantly involved in a game and get a lot of shots the chance of you stopping most of them is very big. But when you have to stop only a few shots per game the chance that one goes in becomes bigger.

But how comes at the end of the day the other keepers look great and Almunia not ? The more you see a keeper the more chance you see him making a mistake. Do you really think that Casillas never makes a mistake ? Believe me he does. Do you think Buffon has magnets in his gloves and every ball ends up with him? No he doesn’t. Do you think Akinfeev never concedes a bad goal ? Believe me he does. I think we all have seen Van der Sar make a mess sometimes. We all can remember Cech being responsible for the exit of the Czech team.

But why don’t we remember these things ? Because we don’t care or even because we like it. If Casillas makes a mistake the chance of a Gooner seeing it is maybe around 0,1 %. And when we see it we note it and after the game we forget it as we don’t care that Real Madrid has lost because Casillas made a mistake. We even may like it and find it very funny. So we don’t have the same emotions that goes with it. If it happens to Arsenal we suffer. If it happens to Real Madrid, or Juventus we just don’t care in the same way.

So yes Almunia makes mistakes sometimes. Like all keepers make mistakes. If you would see all the games from Casillas (and I see a lot of them) then you would see that he is a great keeper and one of the best, but he also makes mistakes and even conceded in the Fabianski way during his career.

But now is the time to get behind the team and this also includes our goalkeeper, whoever it may be. Just let us get behind the whole team for the rest of the season and when the season is finished we will see who stays and who doesn’t. And maybe we could give credit when credit is due just like after the Sunderland game when Almunia kept a clean sheet on crucial stages of the game.  He maybe isn’t the best in the world, but he isn’t the worst that’s for sure.


Rumours and stuff

John Terry is an awfully nice fellow with awfully nice friends.  Having had an affair and messed with a team-mates girl, having lost the captaincy of England, having very serious problems going on in his own family involving drugs and other criminal offences, and having been caught selling trips around the training ground, you would think he might shut up.  But it seems he might have encouraged friends to now spread nasty rumours about his ex-team mate.  One wonders sometimes if he has any humanity at all.

Arsenal have made lots of money: £35.2m in six months in fact.  While virtually every other club either hides its accounts overseas, or declares losses, Arsenal sail on through their own personal territory.

The long term debt is also down by £129.2m.

Rumour has it that supporters of other clubs will now attack Arsenal for being timid, or just interested in money not football, or being a selling club, or I dunno – anything.  Doesn’t really work as an argument though.

Tottenham have cordoned off their training ground after several players  contracted a virus.  “It came as a shock to me,” said Carlos Kickerball.   “It was horrible, all gnarled and slimey and made me throw up every few seconds.”  Experts have said this is an outbreak of Redknappitis.  “We thought we had it contained in the Portsmouth area, but it keeps breaking out and moving around.   People do throw up a lot, and then tend to lose lots of money too, usually going into administration, after encountering the Rednap virus.   If you feel it approaching, run like hell.”


MEANWHILE beyond the reach of the Tottenham training institution…

“Making the Arsenal” – the novel.  Final few copies of the first edition (about 40) available from and from the publishers direct.
Our new superstarWellington Silva
The opening of Very Old Trafford
The days when football journalists could write, entertain and make us laugh (a true newspaper report about Arsenal in the 1930s)

EPL owes more money than the rest of Euro football combined.

Should the top clubs from smaller countries move into Euro Leagues?

Arsenal win the league: the start of the new golden era.

Why did Arsenal move to Highbury, and not somewhere else?

52 Replies to “Almunia: are we being honest?”

  1. With regards to the ‘keeper position, agreed. I think there are better ‘keepers out there but are they really so much better as to justify their probable cost? Is paying 35million for someone like Lloris (15mill transfer fee plus 20mill in wages for five years – you should never forget the wages when saying how much someone costs) really going to provide value for money? I just dont know the answer to that question since I’ve only seen Lloris play about 6 or 7 times live, and then only in European competition. Anyone who has seen him play League matches consistently please feel free to comment.

    With regards to our accounts, YOU MUST GO TO LE GROVE THIS MORNING and see what they have to say. It is so hilarious and unbelievable as to be ridiculous. It seems, according to them, these accounts are all part of a grand and devious plan to plunge the team into debt by, wait for it, paying off all the debt so that the club is easier to sell to someone who wants to pay for the acquisition using debt. Really, really, its true. That is their theory. My goodness, how old are these people?!?!?!?!?

    Apart from that point of view, which I found fantastic, the results are just further confirmation of everything that we have been saying for ages. The club continues to see its financial position return to rude health, perhaps even quicker than anyone at the club ever thought possible when the decision was originally made to build the stadium. I am sure the board thought it would take 5-10 years after the stadium was built for things to turn positive (David Dein definately thought that would be the case) but here we are, 4 years after the stadium was completed and the debt is reducing rapidly, profits are high (15million for the 6 months after taking out profits on player sales) and 18 players have had improved contracts signed. It seems as though there is more to come on the property side as well so everything is really starting to look extremely healthy, on both the business and the playing sides.

  2. If I’ allowed to mention Desi Gunner’s blog who also wrote an article on goalkeepers today (must admit we have been in touch the last days but never spoke about our own articles or goalkeepers).
    Many of fans have named Given as the AW must buy him and all would be golden from that moment. If you take the last 3 games between Stoke and City, Given has cost them many points.

    So it really is not as simple as just buy another goal keeper and all is fine.

  3. Almunia’s fine but no-one is really challenging his position at the club. I think we’ll see some movement in the summer on keepers.
    Tony I look forward to your assessment of the figures released by Arsenal today. They are staggering – a third of our debt has been wiped out, which means the amount of interest we pay will also reduce by a third.
    Paul C – I can’t be arsed to go to Le Grove – Life’s too short to give time of day to the anti-support. There are too many sites that only focus on the negative. If we won the Champions League, they would moan about how our best players would now leave as would have nothing to aim for.
    What today shows is how well this club is being run and as it has kept such a tight ship, we will now become a major player in the transfer market when the big players come available.
    I miss Highbury but the gamble is starting pay off. It won’t be long before Madrid and Barca moan abut us tapping up their best players!

  4. Never mind about so called suspect goalies ,when a goalie has clowns in front of him who can,t or won,t defend ,there,s only one thing to do ,bring in classy dfenders ,not Sol Campbell ,way past he sell by date,Sagna ,the ball watcher ,Gallas the clown ,or Clichy who dribbles himself.Fabianski got his chance against Porto, but yet again non existent defence let him down.Song and Vermaelen are the two main defenders ,but trying telling this to Gallas ,who passes the ball across the backline to Sagna ,then back to Almunia ,who,is forced to kick the ball upfield,givng away possession?

  5. Ian – I used to find Le Grove irritating but recently, as both the financial results and the playing results have begun to improve they have become increasingly desperate and, dare I say it, downright hilarious. With Song and Diaby playing well they are shovelling themselves out of holes every day and all we need now is for Bendtner to score a few goals and they will be going insane. It is really funny.

    The funniest thing I saw on Le Grove EVER was when one of the authors said something along the lines of “I known what I am talking about when it comes to finance because I had my debt refinanced three times”. I almost pissed myself laughing at that one. It was priceless. You really couldnt make that stuff up, could you? And that post this morning, please, please, please go read it, it is absolutely fantastic. I would actually pay for a chance to read that stuff because it is pure comedy at its best.

  6. I imagine the original forcast for the Stadium was made with a sane team who had not previously managed a Victorian Borstal, before the original planning application went in, a while ago now.

    So I think it’s fair to say that the property bubble of the Noughties was almost an irrelevance as far AFC’s project was concerned. Smart developers in London were anticipating (& prepared for) the crash in housing because it was obviously an inflated bubble. Consequently, in hindsight we can say that the Highbury Square development’s sums were always, er, logical!
    One interesting way of contrasting, say a ‘good’development, with a bankrupt one, is comparing playing surface of Wembley to Ashburton Grove: How many meetings about the pitch itself ever took place? Any? Did they just go and dig a few lumps out of Harrow-on-the-Hill & plonk some mud down in ‘Wembley Park’ as an afterthought? How much did the consultant get for that Pearl?

    However, getting back to North London, I think they could add some trees to the Grove, and provide a little shelter for those who seem to suffer hallucinations from over exposure.

  7. When a professional ‘keeper can’t command his area, gather crosses, catch high balls or kick back passes without slicing into the stands i’d say fans have every right to slag him off!
    I was in the north bank when he played his first game, kept fumbling and slicing the ball. All these years later and allegedly at the peak age for a ‘keeper he’s still doing all the same mistakes!
    I can’t imagine Almunia OR Fabianski shirt sales amount to much, so add a world class keeper your instantly getting shirt revenue, stability and confidence AMD the worst ‘keeper in recent memory out if the team.
    Who else would start with him in the Premiership?

  8. Great article Walter and I would add the same for the outfield players as well. The doomers always laud the players who aren’t playing or those who play for other teams for this very reason. They forget that these are human beings who make mistakes as all human beings do.

  9. RoyVasey – there you go, you are doing exactly what this article is talking about. At Arsenal we have been spoiled by 15 years of Seaman and Lehman, two great ‘keepers. But everywhere else has seen exactly what we are now seeing with Almunia. You ask “Who else would start with him in the Premiership?” but the better question is “who else WOULDN’T start with him in the Premiership?”. That is an easier question. Well, Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool wouldnt. Reina is outstanding (but still makes mistakes), Cech is Cech, and Van Der Saar, though old, is still quality. After that?????? Given has been all over the place at City, Gomes has a good game then a bad game at Spurs, every ‘keeper is up and down.

    You say “add a world-class keeper” as if it is easy. Who? Tell us. Who? Where is this world-class keeper? Where is he, because I have been wathcing for the past 2 years trying to find one that is noticeably better than Almunia who is also available (and that is the key, as Casillas and Buffon are obviously better but both are very, very unavailable). From what I have seen of Akinfeev he would struggle with the physicality of England and previous French keepers such as Lloris also dont have a great record in England (see Fabian Barthez, a world cup winner).

    So please tell us, who? Who is this world-class keeper that you are going on about that is so much better?

  10. Walter, my problem with Almunia is not his gaffes it’s the fact that he doesn’t deal well with balls in the air and he doesn’t organize his defense very well on free kicks.

    I don’t think he has a very commanding personality and that is more problematic than physical mistakes.

    That said, it’s good to point out that we need to lay off the players for physical mistakes. Everyone makes physical mistakes.


  11. Rumour of the day:

    Peter Storrie has applied for a job at Cardiff City for the 2010/11 season. Commenting, Peter Ridsdale said: ‘Peter’s experience in taking debt-ridden Clubs to the High Court without being liquidated will be exactly what we will need to bring the Club to its knees in the Premier League. I only had experience of that in the Championship…..’

  12. Let’s be honest. While it’s great to be supportive of our players, Almunia is sub standard. He wouldn’t get into any of the other top teams in the world would he? Like you, i used to play in goal myself. I actually played for the arsenal youth team, so i understand fully that our defensive tactics, and especially our defenders relative shortness don’t make it easy for our keeper, but do you think that the likes of David Seaman or even Lehmann would be making the mistakes that our current keepers are? It’s not only blatant mistakes either. Their general handling, reaction times, and kicking are appaling.

  13. I’ve always thought almunia is good enough. Not perfect but adequate.
    He’s probably not much worse than Cech is for chelsea, who makes plenty of mistakes (imagine if almunia had let in that milito goal!) but still puts in plenty of good performances.
    The 07/08 season I felt was stolen from us thanks to a combination of too many injuries (eduardo being the final nail in the coffin), a host of terrible refereeing decisions across about 8-10 consecutive games, and the enormous negative pressure exerted on our players, particularly gallas, by the press. In the end all those things stopped us winning the title, but I dont remember our keeper doing much wrong – which tells me hes good enough for the job!
    It was after that season that the scapegoating started. He hardly put a foot wrong all year but when it all started going wrong certain fans started pointing fingers at him.

  14. Paul C – Just had a look – just weird.

    They don’t just speculate that Arsenal will be sold off but state it as an inevitable outcome.
    Too weird for me. It is funny but I think it is a bit too disturbing for me.

    On a day when Arsenal’s long-term future looks promising and stable, they declare they are sick to their stomach. What exactly did they want – a statement saying we can’t pay off our interest payments?

    Enough of them – I’ll stick to sites populated by Arsenal SUPPORTERS.

  15. James – your comment “do you think that the likes of David Seaman or even Lehmann would be making the mistakes that our current keepers are” highlights exactly what Walter is talking about. David Seaman was one of England’s finest ‘keepers, EVER. Is there a single English ‘keeper of that quality anywhere right now? Is anyone even remotely close? And for two seasons Jens Lehmann was one of the finest ‘keepers in the world before starting his decline. If he was playing in the PL right now at that standard Jens would EASILY be the best in the country.

    What ‘keepers in England are NOT making mistakes right now (the type of mistakes that the likes of Seaman and Lehmann would not make)? Can you name a single infallible ‘keeper in the country right now? Even Cech has had nightmares against balls thrown into the box this season, perhaps even greater nightmares than Almunia.


    I wish that there were loads of better ‘keepers out there, OBVIOUSLY BETTER (not just better in some peoples opinions). When we signed David Seaman in 1990 I remember that day so clearly because it was so obvious to everyone in the country that David Seaman was a class above everyone out there. He was the best and we had signed the best. When we signed Jens Lehmann I remember a German friend of mine saying “wow, you just signed some serious class” even though very few of us knew much about him. I dont get that feeling about anyone out there right now and yet people make it seem like AW is just ignoring the situation and ignoring loads and loads and loads of quality ‘keepers.

    I ask again, WHO????????

  16. Ian – absolutely, that is exactly what I thought as well. Why couldnt they have just said “wow, great results, now why doesnt AW spend some of it?”. Had they stuck to that line they could have kept pounding AW as they like to and still retained some semblance of sanity. But trying to make our results out to be terrible, or a harbinger of doom? As you say, WEIRD!!!!

  17. Walter, there are only so many times you give your Moet & Chandon to the waiter that trips over and repeatedly smashes the bottle on the way to the table.

    Eventually you decide that a safer pair of hands might save you money in the long term. Even if up front he might cost more in wages.

  18. Just a fast reminder : Lehmann lost his place after some real mistakes. Remember the shot from very fat that went through his hands in Blackburn (?). I haven’t seen Almunia produce such a bad mistake like that.

    O yes I liked Lehman a lot, my beloved crazy German. 🙂

    Even Seaman had his horrible moments. Almunia has a problem with corners and free kicks but many keepers have those problems as those are the most difficult balls to deal with. Do you come or do you stay decision in a split second…. with a ball that floats around in the air… In my days when we played with some old fashioned cannonballs you could tell the line of the ball in an instant, now this is very difficult and the reason many keepers miss them.

    And like some have said: who is better and who is available ? That is the main question and then I see little names coming out of the hat

  19. Very nicely put Walter. Almunia is fine although not worldclass but what am concerned about are the understudies.. the backup goalies dont really push him … Almunia’s technique is good but i feel he doesnt communicate much with the back four.. If a keeper can command the back 4 then that itself is a virtue to admire.. I think our leaky defense, especially when it comes to set pieces is because of this lack of communication.. and the other problem is that there is not a single pattern which gives us a clear indication as to where his weakness lies.. i have seen him do some amazing shot stopping, 1 on 1 s and have seen him come up and truncate corners and make some solid punches.. so it must be the nerves, not his technique.. there is something psychologically wrong here no technical issues..

  20. It really hard to compare, but I was disappointed when Lehmann was dropped like a hot potato.

    Lehmann at his best had some amazing games. Madrid at home in the CL, palming Raul’s goalbound shot to the post. Man Utd away, puching Solskaer’s inch perfect shot round the post. Of course he made a mess of Eto’o in the CL final.

    Almunia’s standout performance was probably the CL semi last season away at Old Trafford. On the flip he was dreaming for the return when Ronaldo belted in the 40 yarder. From where I was sitting he thought he had it covered (but hey that’s my opinion)

    Walter you want suggestions? Consider Schwazer at Fulham? Friedel? Surely both would jump at playing for the Arsenal? Not the long term answer, but would provide a level of competition that the Polish No 1 is miles away from.

  21. I personally feel that goalkeepers are “often” only as good as the defensive units in front of them, and that also with Arsenal’s desire to attack with all players, they will sacrifice defensive solidity quite often. So even though it is easy to blame the goalkeeper solely for the goals we concede (and in Fabianski’s case that has been the truth unfortunately), Almunia has probably performed as well as anybody else would, so I agree with Walters article 100%. Yes, David Seaman was great, but at the same time he always had some of the best defenders around playing in front of him. But for much of his time at Arsenal, we were a much more defence minded team as well. I would much rather watch this current team play the football that gets my pulse and heart racing, even if it means losing a few matches and conceding more goals, than to see them grind out 1-0 wins with no entertainment. Peter Schmeichel is the best goalkeeper I have seen play the game, a goalkeeper that truly was worth so many points a season, but he has set an extremely high bench mark that all goalkeepers are now judged by. Lighter balls that are moving much faster through the air and swerving all over the place, also makes goalkeeping today an unattractive position to play at best of times, so I think we should be more positive with Manuel, as he really isn’t that bad at all. I also hope that Fab will come good as well, as even despite his mistakes, he has made some wonderful saves in the games he has played (I’m trying to remember the double save he made in the carling cup last season where he tipped one shot onto the cross bar – they were world class and showed that he has got what it takes)

  22. Does anyone have any statistics on Almunia, such as success rate when coming out for crosses etc? Surely this is the only way to objectively measure his quality as a keeper, and must be one of the ways Le Professor himself rates Almunia?

  23. Totally agree with you Walter. As I have too much free time (more than I would like to have), I am in position to see about 8 to 10 games weekly. What gives me good insight of other “big” team goalies.
    As u mentioned in article, Casillas make almost same amount of mistakes per a game as Almunia, and it costed Real dearly in many games.
    I wont say Almunia is top class, but he is fairly good, and I don’t think we lost something because of him. Arsenal is team and teamwork is what is apricaited most, so Almunia is just part of team ( team which I love).

    Shay Given had luck to be in teams “which” grayness was such that he was shining what ever he would do. Now why he don’t make Citeh be invincible… as far as I know to count they are still behind us, even they spend spend spend, and buy buy buy attackers and goalies.

  24. Le Grove…i got arsed from there just because i said the truth…well that is the most ridiculous and negative arsenal blog i have ever seen….don’t know if something can be done about that

  25. AGS I don’t think you can compare goal keepers from different eras. There have been changes in ball technology – it’s lighter now and moves around more in the air, Delap’s long throw is also a new weapon, who’s to say how a previous goal keeper would manage in the modern game?

  26. Personally I think the Lehman was a far superior keeper to the set we have now but in fairness I cant think of a better one that would be for sale.

    On a completely different subject, most of you will by now have seen the Arsenal 1/2 yearly profit figures. In aprticular the 40% reduction in our outstanding debt.

    LeGrove used this to hatch a conspiracy theory which will no doubt gain traction amongst the D&G brigade rather than marvelling at the fact that as well as turning a £35 mil profit e paid off over £100 mil of debt in a six month period.

    I would suggest that the shrewd financial people at Arsenal are getting our club’s affairs in very tight order in anticipation of what will no doubt be a very Draconian new set of rules enforced by Platini and UEFA regarding the structure of debts owed by clubs applying each year to play in European competition.

    If the FA or UEFA were as proactive as Arsenal debt might not be such a serious issue currently. Still the prospect of Man UTD or Liverpool going into administration makes the mouth water eh

  27. DBTH – didn’t think I was comparing goalkeepers from different era’s. If I had mentioned Shilton and Clemance and Southall, then maybe I would agree, but if you can tell me a better goalkeeper than Peter Schmiechel, who is playing today, then I’m all ears

  28. I bet Walter is a better ‘keeper than Schmiechel!!!!!

    Utd and Arsenal fans both got very, very spoiled as far as goalkeeping is concerned through the 90’s. Schmiechel and Seaman are as good a pair as any other 2 ‘keepers you could mention in ANY era in football history. Those 2 would have been great no matter what the ball was like or despite any other changes to the game. Arsenal fans since the late 60’s have seen some really outstanding goalkeeping with Bob Wilson, Pat Jennings, John Lucic, David Seaman and Lehmann pretty much following one after another for almost 40 years.

    It used to be that all you had to say was “excellent British goalkeepers” and a list of candidates would stand up. From the 60’s to the 80’s there were fantastic goalkeepers that never got anywhere near the England team because of Banks, Shilton and Clemence. That has changed now. When David James is the best you can offer you know that standards have dropped. Pity.

  29. Yes, Paul when you mentioned it, since Seaman, I don’t see high quality goalie in England. While, in example, Germans have generation after generation of extra class goalkeepers which fallow one after another (France and Spain too), England and Italy (lately) have huge problems with domestic ones.
    How many teams ins PL have goalie who is Englishman and not having defensive problems?

  30. Paul C, I see it as my privilidge to point out professionals flaws.
    If someone wants to come on site and can do a better job than me I expect to be replaced.
    That’s the thing, if your not good enough it happens!
    Get over it.

  31. And to answer your other rant, sorry point Manuel Fawlty would probably get a game at Burnley.
    As for a replacement, Jaaskelinen when Bolton are relegated, Mark Shwarzer if Fulham aren’t in Europe are 2 in the Premiership that instantly spring to mind.
    If Manuel was sp good were is he in the OPTA stats? Nowhere that’s where.
    This isn’t a personnal attack on the man, I’m sure he’s a great lad, he’s always doing his bit for the club.
    BUT this isn’t a popularity contest. It’s his job to keep goal, hes on a great wage but he’s not very good.

  32. RoyVasey – “I see it as my privilidge to point out professionals flaws.” Huh????? And get over what????? Sorry, you completely lost me there with those comments.

    As to the rest of your post, of course people should be replaced if someone better can be found. But are you saying that person should be replaced even if there is no one better? I hope not.

    What we are saying is who is better that is affordable and available? It is no good just screaming “replace that guy” if you dont have ideas as to who should replace that person.

    So tell us, who should the club buy? Who are these world-class goalkeepers that you see out there that are so much better than Almunia and are available and affordable?

  33. Sorry Roy – I posted before your other response showed up. Sorry, I have to say now that I completely and utterly disagree with you if Jaask and Schwarzer are your ideas. Nope, I dont agree that either one of those guys are any better at all than Almunia. And sorry, but if EITHER of those guys were anywhere near world-class they wouldnt be playing for Fulham and Bolton. Almunia would probably look absolutely fine playing for those sides as well. Heck, Ben Foster looked like superman when he played at Watford and the moment he stepped out for Utd everything changed and he suddenly looked very average. Same with Given, with Newcastle he looked great but now at City competing at the top of the League every single flaw is exposed. That is what happens. There is a big difference between performing in the middle to lower ranges of the League and performing at the top of the table. And besides, Schwarzer is 38 and Jaask 36, are either of guys really answers in terms of the future either? In my opinion they are both very average goalkeepers. But if you think they are world-class then I guess that is your opinion.

  34. Let’s agree to disagree. If I pointed out the obvious contenders ala Lloris, Akinfeev, Reina you’d have said get off the band wagon. To be fair if I had a choice it’d be Buffon any day that boys class.
    But your right I’m wrong I can live with that.

  35. Sorry, damn typos. It’s what happens when I lift my posts straight out of a TV show from the 70’s:

    Manuel: “I know nothing!”

  36. Akinfeev maybe is better than Almunia, but if he don’t play in some “big” team it doesn’t mean he is on sale.
    We have to understand that teams wont fall on ass and say “please take him” if we came and say “we are Arsenal (ManU, Chel$ea…)we want buy your player”.
    All teams, from Russia, France, Spain or Germany, or where ever, have ambitions too, and opposite than in computer games, you cant force them to sell if they don’t want (at last not for reasonable amount of money).

  37. walter — Nice post. You are ever the optimist, and it’s great.

    You are right. There’s no position on the pitch that depends more on confidence than the goalkeeper.

    Almunia, Fabianski, and co. need all the support we can give them for the run-in!

  38. I love this quote. Another gem:

    “The real question,” said Arsène Wenger breaking into an incongruent smile, “is do you deduct the time it takes to clean the ball with the towel?

    “Actually for me that is a good advertising possibility for a cleaning company you know.”

  39. OK what happened to my purple monster avatar? This is crazy we all look alike? Finsbury thanks for that! It was hilarious…..

    Walter, I know nothing about the GK and trust in what you see. I can’t say actually I have seen Almunia make many errors by the way of late other than (MU, of which I did not see).

    I was originally concerned in the beginning of the season because of the pre-season fiasco where he flubbed the ball and was scored on…and a couple of other odds and ends. But, Later learned he was having some personal issues.

    So Now I am resolved in we need to support the whole team for the rest of this campaign… Especially for those of you who visit Emirates regularly!

    As for a new GK… Well If he is good enough for Wenger he is good enough for me! Let’s just win tommorrow!

  40. I don’t think Almunia is good enough. I agree that he doesn’t have enough support (we have TWO suicidally attacking centre-halves and two wing backs, one of whom is positionally suspect), and in that situation, even the best keeper in the world can look poor. But Almunia keeps making mistakes. He has disappointed in the big games. He doesn’t command the area. He doesn’t come out for crosses. He doesn’t organise the defence. He’s 32(?) and he’s not going to get better.

    I think it’s time to try someone else. We’re the Arsenal, and we’re trying to build the best club in the world. Should the best club in the world settle for a mediocre ‘keeper? Barcelona can get away with it, but they’ve got Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, Ibra, Henry and Daniel Alves to keep the ball away from Victor Valdes. Plus, they’re a monster in Yaya Toure to guard the midfield. We don’t have the defensive discipline to keep Almunia from getting exposed. We don’t have the incisive edge to score the goals to allow for the inevitable stupid mistake. We are not Barcelona, and hence, we don’t have the ability to be the best club in the world with a shit ‘keeper.

    And, I think if you ask 100 people who the best ‘keeper in the world is, the common consensus would be Casillas or Buffon. If you asked about the most PROMISING keeper, then you’d get a variety of opinions. I don’t know which of Lloris, Akinfeev, Neuer or whoever is the best of the lot, but I’d suggest that any one of them has more potential to succeed than Almunia or Fabianski. Therefore, I’d consider it worthwhile to buy one of them, in order to, you know, improve the team. That’s what the transfer market is for, isn’t it?

  41. I dont think that almunia is so bad. at the start of this season, we notched a massive goal difference. not many clean sheets, but a great goal difference. with our left and right backs, sometimes gallas, and almost always vermaelen, spending so much time attacking, its no wonder that goals have been scored. i dont think wengers too worried about it because as long as we get a hatful more than them, the odd goal doesnt matter.

    now, to play the devils advocate, pompeys receiver is going to ask to be able to sell players out of the window, its obvious they will be going down. so James will surely be available. the other great english goalkeeper joe hart is on loan at birmingham, maybe he can be tempted for a loan with a view to buy.

  42. Whether Almunia is good enough or not depends where you set your standards. If you are happy losing to United, Chelsea every time we play and getting no further than the quarter finals of the CL, then Almunia is OK. If you want to go that step further and beat top opposition you have to have a keeper that can make great saves against the best strikers and win you the game.
    You are right in pointing out that all keepers make errors- some of them bad ones- but all of those keepers you mentioned are capable of winning you a critical game, but against the best Almunia has yet to prove that he can. Perhaps it is a confidence/ temperament issue.
    I think Almunia is a good backup keeper-and yes it would do him no harm to have some real competition from a keeper with more confidence who makes fewer errors. Arsenal need to buy a Keeper- and no not Given he is too short.

  43. It is notable in this discussion that no one has responded to RoyVasey’s citation of the OPTA stats and rankings for keepers in the PL, where Almunia is at ot very near the bottom of the league 19th in rank. Now these sorts of analysis are not foolproof but are indicative of what has been obvious to many that Almunia has represented a real defensive weakness and isn’t performing at the standard required for a title challenging team. Presumably we’d like to win something besides the money cup–Arsenal’s layest profits are like a new trophy!! (to some who take undue pride in the administration of the PLC to the underemphasizing of the club’s on pitch performance).

    Yes, we must support Almunia in the stadium, but there is no reason not to discuss whatthe club needs and offering views on player performance, etc…, on a blog comment.

    Let’s hope he deals with Delap throws and high balls into the box today at Stoke. We need a commanding win, not just the three vital points, since I don’t think we’ve played well since the Everton draw even in victory and we need the confidence inspiration a smashing of what had become our new bogey team to propel us through the run in. Could challenge for the title if we start today on a streak of wins against the delegation scrappers on the schedule for the next six games.

  44. Brad Friedel. BRAD FRIEDEL!!!! somehow not one single person ever remembers his name or him. Is it because he is American? he is a brilliant keeper. i’d take him over any other goalkeeper.

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