Football is a game of stories.
After a flawless performance that included a marvelous penalty save against Partizan Belgrade, Lukasz Fabianski’s Arsenal story is set to run a little longer.
Arsene Wenger’s consistent faith in Fabianski suggests there has to be a good goalkeeper in there somewhere. For the first time in a long, long time he showed it.
In truth the Pole’s performance was not extraordinary, but his reaction on saving a Cleo’s weak second penalty revealed a man that has clearly been feeling the tension. That Kieran Gibbs, a player who often sits alongside Fabianski on the bench, so whole-heartedly celebrated with the goalkeeper gave an insight into how the rest of the squad may have be feeling about his peculiar predicament.
Prior to Fabianki’s penalty the Arsenal boys put in a rather Arsenal performance.
Sebastien Squillaci, paired here with Johan Djourou for the first time, had a scattered opening quarter of an hour and Partizan Belgrade looked lively, creating a couple of very decent opportunities. But then Andrey Arshavin, linking well with a quick-thinking Jack Wilshere, opened the scoring with a classy finish.
After a difficult start our team began to assert their authority but then Denilson, given a rare start, bizarrely handled in the area and gifted the home side an opportunity to get back into the game. Cleo, in stark comparison to his second penalty, coolly slid the ball home.
Arshavin continued to bubble along while Marouane Chamakh and Wilshere gave him good support. Arsenal always looked the more likely team to score, even if Alex Song had another inconsistent game in the heart of midfield.
When Arshavin slid in Chamakh and the Moroccan fouled it looked like game over, but the Russian missed from spot with his attempt to go down the middle. While the damage was not done directly, Marko Jovanovic’s red card created much space in the Partizan defence and it was only a matter of time before the breakthrough came.
In the end it was Chamakh who got the goal, albeit via two headers from an excellent Tomas Rosicky cross, and Squillaci made it three with his first for the club soon after. The manager looked bemused that he had the audacity to do something as simple as head in from a corner kick.
Then came Fabianski’s moment. Gibbs fouled, Cleo stepped up to give Partizan hope and Fabianski intervened. And then, to prove it wasn’t a fluke, he tipped wide another effort from the home side soon after.
Fabianski still has much to do to prove he is as good as his manager said it was but this was a step in the right direction. With Manuel Almunia injured and Chelsea approaching soon, it could turn out to be a step taken at just the right time.
His story, and indeed Arsenal’s, will go on.
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