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A look at the ‘keepers: Almunia, Given or Schwarzer? 17 August, 2010

Posted 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.


1. wenger - 17 August, 2010

shwarzer is the best option.arsenal has a big problem of dealing with set pieces.when we get teams with big strikers and defenders our defence will definitely struggle, but with the height of shwarzer, we will solve this once and for all.

2. 1979gooner - 17 August, 2010

I agree. Strangely just wrote a piece with a few of the same points.

I think Schwarzer is no better, slightly worse possibly, problem is that Almunia has been so undermined this close and pre season, that it’s very hard for him to go on.

What Wenger should have done is pretend he didn’t want a keeper. He should have backed Almunia 100% and if he could sign a keeper, he would have to backtrack. As it is we face a season with a keeper who has been completely undermined by his manager.

3. redanddread - 17 August, 2010

Has anyone analysed Schwarzers performances recently. Maybe we should liase with some fulham supporters and get their views. My concern is that, are we really getting a better keeper. I like Almunia, his handling and shot stopping are great but his flapping at crossess and decision making tend to let him down.

Is Schwarzer really the dominat GK we need? Am open to debate

Given is a world class shot stopper and yesterday I reviewed some you tube action of him and he has an impressive resume of outstanding saves. However, what we need as Robson clearly states is a GK that DOMINATES his area and is BIG (as our defence is short). The big question is does Given provide that? I am not sure but he, Given, is certainly a fine GK.

However, the behaviuor of our fans towards our incumbent is nothing short of disgraceful-a bit like the way some of them behave towards the whole team when we don’t get a fluent 4-0 victory-no pleasing some of the retards out there.

As far as I am concerned, whomever we have playing for us I will support…….it’s my team and I want them to win.

4. Ray - 17 August, 2010

I don’t think the criticisms of Almunias performances are unjustified, and where is this great season he supposedly had two seasons ago. No one I have talked to since he got the no.1 slot has been comfortable with him there from day 1, we didn’t deal with the situation when Lehmann left. He flaps at crosses, is not confident in the air, punches when he should catch (a continental thing granted), and for a “good shot stopper” gets beaten too often on his near post.
Good keepers can always make a mistake, Reina showed that this weekend but he just makes too many.

5. davegooner - 17 August, 2010

I don’t why everyone keeps saying that Man City won’t sell Given to a Top 6 rival. There are prepared to sell Stephen Ireland to Villa and if they took that approach I don’t think the Top 6 rivals would sell players to them in the future.

I agree with Stewart Robson’s view on Given but judging by the comments made on the Fulham blogs, their fans seem to rate Schwarzer really highly.

6. Aziz, KL-Malaysia - 17 August, 2010

I’d go for Schwarzer anytime before Almunia. And Given is even more preferred as he will give us a few years longer stability in the back and there is no need to throw one of the youngsters into the fray too early (this excludes Fabiansky, same nut as Almunia).

7. Liam - 17 August, 2010

Bentley 40 yards
Danny Rose 40 yards
Ronaldo 40 yards
Barcelona away (5 shots, 4 goals nowhere near any)
Spurs home (4 shots, 4 goals, nowhere near any)
Champions League final (2 goals through his legs)
ManUtd 2005 (chipped by John O’Shea…..yes John O’Shea)
Birmingham away 2009 (throws ball in FOR NO REASON in 91st minute ending our title campaign)

I mean I could go on?

I cannot believe ANYONE defends Almunia on any level. How many more points are we going to drop as this guy concedes shots Cech, Van Der Saar, Given, Reina, Hart and even Gomes would routinely save? It’s not the massive errors, it’s the borderline ones like Ngog on Sunday that he ALWAYS let’s in.

It’s not that Schwarzer is especially great, it’s merely that he’s competent.

And by the way if Stewart Robson was any sort of sage he would not be stuck talking to a man and his dog on Arsenal TV with that dipstick out of M-People and Lofty.

8. Old Gooner - 17 August, 2010

I watched Schwarzer’s performances last season in the UEFA Cup when Fulham got to the final – he wasn’t very good and made lots of mistakes. Maybe he’s better at crosses than Almunia, but he’s nowhere near as good a shot stopper. I think replacing Almunia with Schwarzer would weaken our defence further rether than improve it. For me if it’s a choice between those two I’d stick with Almunia. However, Given is a different matter and would improve our defence. I agree that I’d like Almunia to stay as he’d be a great second choice keeper. I also think he’s been a little unlucky that we don’t have a centre half who can dominate in the air and take some of the pressure of him. A lot of the recent criticism on blogs has been very unfair.

9. adam truman - 17 August, 2010

Almunia is just a nice bloke who doesn’t really have any competition for No.1 and should stay and fight for it with Schwarzer.

Good shot stopper! Aren’t all goallies suppose to be do this.

Stats show they are about even on shots stopping and clean sheets, but Schwarzer clears the area much better on crosses, even if he did have a lousy World Cup.

Zap - 17 August, 2010

i agree with you here, but i dont think you can judge a goalie by the world cup performances the jabulani ball was ridiculous, i am not saying you are though im just saying!

10. GoonersProtector - 17 August, 2010

Some fans sound like they are going to kill Wenger if he did not sign a goalkeeper this season and seem like the No. 1 can be anyone ie. Tom, Dick or Harry as long as it is not Almunia or Fab.

I pitied Almunia as he was being criticised and insulted by Arsenal fans all over the world. Imagine a million fans do not like Al, if we are in his shoes, our confidence and mentality will be even worse than Al.

No point asking for his head at this time as his confidence may get worse and letting in more goals. Please show your support to our Arsenal players and less criticism.

11. Charlie - 17 August, 2010

I think we should stick with Almunia. I remember the 2008/09 where he wasn’t just very reliable but also run of best players. If he can rediscover the form he showed in that season or even the form he showed in the 2007/08 season then that would be brilliant.

I just can’t believe how some Arsenal fans are behaving towards him, its an absolute disgrace how some of his critics don’t say anything when he performs well but as soon as he makes a mistake they are immediately all over him.

12. bob mcnabs cat - 17 August, 2010


you talk shit,

i think you are spending too much time chatting to your imaginary friend……..dick!

13. stu-boy - 17 August, 2010

typical arsene leaving everything to the last minute and then maybe not doing anything at all.
unless wenger had a sack over his head for the last 2 seasons he must have known that almunia isnt up to the job. what is wrong with the bloke??

14. Zap - 18 August, 2010

bob mcnabs cat..u have nothing better to say..u have nothing decent to say..fuck off, u useless sod.

15. Zap - 18 August, 2010

what kind of a name is that anyway, do you really expect anybody to take u seriously anyway

16. Zap - 18 August, 2010

you dont know me so dont chat shit like u do. I’m Moroccan, i’ve seen marouane play for my country for years, i think i should know wether he is good or not, you have no right to judge someone before even seeing them properly. Why arent you at least grateful ur not from portsmouth or wigan, contemplating relegation, or stockport or somewhere like that.. the fact is we are a top 4 side, champions league regulars..there are many things wrong at the club but at the end of the day, we should be proud, not whingeing like a fucking 6 year old. Grow up. You cunt.

17. Kashif - 18 August, 2010

Bloody hell! How did Flapianski get more votes than Almunia?!

18. Terence McGovern - 18 August, 2010

YEAAAAA! What ZAP said! Zap u legend don’t take shit from any1

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