A look at the ‘keepers: Almunia, Given or Schwarzer? 17 August, 2010Posted by lasagnechef in Arsenal News.
I came across this yesterday from ex-captain Stewart Robson saying that he thinks Manuel Almunia is a better option than both Mark Schwarzer and Shay Given and it got me thinking. It made me look back to not last season, but the one before when Manuel established himself in the Premier League and actually looked like a decent ‘keeper. We were very happy with him as a successor to Lehmann and we were even singing for him to take the no.1 shirt for England. However it all went wrong for him last season, a massive drop in confidence affected the whole defence and since then we’ve been linked with a move for a new goalkeeper. This is what Robson said on Sky Sports News yesterday:
“I don’t see that Schwarzer, the player that everybody’s talking about, is a better goalkeeper than Almunia – I think Almunia’s a better goalkeeper than Schwarzer.
Shay Given is a very good shot-stopper, but most of the criticism of Arsenal’s goalkeepers is that they don’t come for crosses or haven’t been dominant in the air. Shay Given’s not that goalkeeper. He’s a very good goalkeeper, we all know that, but he’s more of a shot-stopper than someone who’s going to dominate his penalty area.
It’s true that our problem is the organization of the defence and dealing with balls in the air, Almunia isn’t a bad shot stopper on his day, not as good as Given but not bad. He went on to say that he thinks we can win the league with Almunia in goal but we have our defensive strategy to sort out, he defends the ‘keeper saying our defenders need to up their game too and Almunia really isn’t as bad as Arsenal fans make out.
Maybe he’s not, but we’ve seen him make too many mistakes now and I’m afraid being a goalkeeper you get judged by your mistakes. He’s made some great saves in his time at Arsenal you cant deny that but the fans have forgotten about that now due to all the dropped balls, missed crosses, bad decision making and poor ball-handling. You could see clearly how badly that affected the defence in front of him, they no longer trusted the ‘keeper behind them, they didn’t know what he was going to do and it made them nervous and jittery too. I’m afraid it might be too late for Manuel now, he may still have the talent to make it but the damage has been done already.
This is illustrated perfectly by this image of Almunia missing a cross against Liverpool on Sunday leaving Sagna and Clichy bewildered on the line. Pretty funny actually! The image is from an interview with the current no.1 saying he may look to leave if we bring a new goalie in. You can’t blame him for saying that but in an ideal world I’d want him to stay, he’s a great no.2 goalkeeper – I don’t think he’s quite good enough to be the permanent choice but can fill in well when needed. However with a taste of first team football now I wouldn’t be surprised if he left.
As for the options for his replacements well we all know about Mark Shwarzer and Shay Given. The Manchester City goalie looks to have lost his place as no.1 thanks to the emerging Joe Hart who put in a great performance against Spurs. Given made it quite clear that he’s not happy to sit on the bench and will look for first team football elsewhere if not selected. Obviously he’s going to be linked with Arsenal straight away but I don’t think it’s going to happen if I’m honest with you. Why would City allow a rival to strengthen their squad? There’s a chance they might let us have him but I doubt it as it looks like they are ruling out a move to Tottenham for Craig Bellamy. It’s not like they need the money, they can do whatever they please. I imagine a move to Celtic or a team outside of the Premiership’s top six will be more likely for the Ireland no.1.
Given’s former team mate at Newcastle, Warren Barton has been misquoted about his future. Typical Sport.co.uk have used the headline ‘Barton: Given is going to Arsenal’ when all he has said is that he could see him at the club. Many Arsenal fans have seen this and taken it as a given that he’s on the way (no pun intended). He could be, but I think this is just a case of Sport.co.uk twisting quotes again.
I think the most likely options is Schwarzer. He’s actually handed in a transfer request, Fulham didn’t play him at the weekend, he says he wants to come to Arsenal and we are actually interested in him – all signs point towards a move. At the weekend Fulham played second choice David Stockdale against Bolton claiming Schwarzer was ‘injured’ and the 24-year-old put in a great performance. It has left Fulham fans a bit more relieved about the whole situation. I think the main thing stopping a potential move to Arsenal would be if they couldn’t find a replacement for him but they may already have one in Stockdale; maybe Given will even join up with former boss Mark Hughes at Fulham, who knows?
So a move for Schwarzer looks like it could be on the cards. I take into account Almunia’s past good performances for Arsenal but as I said I think the damage has been done now. A new, reliable ‘keeper would do the defence’s confidence a world of good and hopefully bring a bit of defensive stability to the squad. All it takes now is for us to make an acceptable offer and we have ourselves an established, respected Premier League goalkeeper.
This doesn’t get away from the fact that we still need one or two more centre backs but one baby step at a time guys…
Thanks for reading.