Lehmann signs extension – but is it best for the club?
Arsenal will go into their English Premier League game against relegation candidates Fulham on the back of securing a one-year extension deal with their current first-choice goalkeeper Jens Lehmann. Arsene Wenger has been encouraging Lehmann for a long while now into staying at Arsenal for another year and he will no doubt be delighted with the German’s decision.
Whilst Wenger will be pleased, a couple of interesting questions remain. Firstly, what does this signing mean for Arsenal come next season? Will Lehmann remain as first choice or will Wenger still be looking for a replacement? Secondly, is this a good outcome for Arsenal?
I have no doubt in my mind that the decision to retain Lehmann will be beneficial to the club next season. He is still a very solid keeper who rarely makes errors and should be part of the squad next season. As for the issue of whether he will be first-choice, I strongly hope that this is not the case.
A new goalkeeper is one of the three essential signings Wenger must make over the summer in order for Arsenal to compete with the top three. Incidentally, the other two are a centre-back and an out-and-out winger. Without these three signings, it is unlikely that Arsenal will have any more success than they did this season.
There is no doubt that keeping Lehmann on as understudy and support for the new goalkeeper is essential and I am certain that this is what Wenger’s plan is. If Arsenal happen to sign a young goalkeeper than he will need guidance, and Lehmann can provide this. And if this happens to be Wenger’s plan you have to wonder, will Arsenal’s next goalkeeper be German as well?
In contrast to Lehmann’s signing an extension, there has also been news that William Gallas is on his way to Real Madrid for £15m after a dispute with an “unnamed young player”. I think it would be best to ignore this one – it seems to be a case of the media trying to pick on Arsenal after the David Dein departure and build on the apparent “crisis” at the club. As I said in the latest Spanish Fry article – what a load of rubbish!
Regardless of the situation at the club, the fact is that Arsenal face Fulham, a side that has beaten them once already this season, on Sunday. Fulham currently sit just three points above third-bottom Charlton and need to stop a recent run of poor results.
You have to feel for little Fulham as they will be running into Arsenal at the worst possible time – Wenger’s side can play without much pressure after virtually securing fourth but will want to prove a point to all those out there who say the club is in turmoil. You just get the feeling that an Arsenal side that should be similar to the one who drew with Tottenham last week might give their London neighbours a bit of a battering.
Arsenal’s only fresh injury casualty is Freddie Ljungberg, who was hurt in the match against Tottenham, so the Gunners will field a similar side to last weekend. Wenger will most likely play a 4-5-1, with Fabregas replacing Ljungberg in the centre of midfield.
Probable Arsenal Line-Up (4-5-1; L-R): Lehmann – Eboue, Gallas, Toure, Clichy – Rosicky, Gilberto, Diaby, Fabregas, Hleb – Adebayor.
Prediction: 4-0. I really think that Arsenal will be determined to put the boardroom unrest behind them and this will see them put a plummeting Fulham side to the sword. Rosicky, Fabregas and Adebayor should continue getting amongst the goals and I can see the defence keeping a clean sheet. You have to feel for Fulham though!