Prior to Arsenal’s trip to Belgrade I spoke of the consequences that Lukasz Fabianski’s performance could have on Sunday’s game against Chelsea.
“The big problem relating to the goalkeeper situation comes if Almunia is short for Chelsea. Does Wenger throw in Fabianski even if he bungles in Belgrade? Or does he use the opportunity to give the other Pole an opportunity? What about if Fabianski plays perfectly well or has a spectacular game? I think we will learn a lot this week.”
And I think we have.
While one strong performance is not enough to erase the doubts that exist over Fabianski’s first-team ability, the simple fact is that we have one goalkeeper whose confidence is up and another whose is in the gutter. I have no doubts in my mind that Manuel Almunia is genuinely injured but that’s not to say that he’s not still feeling the psychological impacts of a real poor performance against West Brom.
Fabianski, on the other hand, appears to be flying. He has received glowing tributes from Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere and his biggest fan, Arsene Wenger and boldy declared he is “ready, always ready” to play at Chelsea on Sunday. If he sounds like a man full of confidence it’s because he is.
I have to say that the Pole’s penalty save against Partizan was my favourite moment of the season so far. When the referee pointed to the spot with the score at a comfortable 3-1 my first thought (and brilliantly, the first thought of the fellow sitting next to me in the pub was) was this is Lukasz’s chance. This is his opportunity to make a big impact on the game and get his confidence up. When Fabianski made the save and let out a huge roar of delight, I was roaring just as loudly.
Whether he kicks on from here is very much up to him, but if he is chosen against Chelsea and has a great game, what sort of impact could it have on him and the team? I’m getting excited just thinking about it, even despite my tendency to lean towards realism rather than optimism.
In less positive pre-Chelsea news it seems that Thomas Vermaelen will be short for Sunday’s game with his niggling achilles problem. It means we’ll be set to play the defensive pairing of Sebastien Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny with potential support from Fabianski in goals.
Is it a defensive unit good enough to hold out Chelsea at Stamford Bridge? Let me know your thoughts.
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