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Curtains For Szczesny After FA Cup Run Ends?

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Last Saturday Arsenal lost to Spurs and Christ, what a horrible feeling. You cannot, despite the fact it has happened before, prepare yourself for the feeling of utter despair and anger after losing to that lot. Eventually though, after your phone has stopped making noises warning you of more abuse coming your way you calm down and maybe gain a little perspective - It did take a while for me. Now and then Spurs will win the North London Derby. It's inevitable, much like Arsenal finishing above them. We'll take the piss on the twentieth consecutive St. Totteringham's Day. I'm very confident we will have the last laugh. (Please God let us have the last laugh).

Thankfully Saturday lunchtime is now pretty insignificant as we find ourselves back above Tottenham after they let Balotelli score his first league goal of the season whilst Arsenal beat bottom side Leicester 2-1 on Tuesday night. Arsenal weren't very good at all but a win is a win and 3 points is 3 points. Tottenham fans I know didn't appear to like me calling them a small club in my last blog. They then only took 1800 fans to Anfield. Big club mind.....

This Sunday Arsenal play Middlesbrough in The FA Cup and it's more than likely Wenger will start his new "cup 'keeper" Wojciech Szczesny. He may wear the number one but there is no doubt that our first choice goalkeeper is at the moment is David Ospina. Is it time to accept that Szczesny is probably just not going to be as good as we thought he could have been at one point? I believe so and I think Arsene Wenger may just be starting to think that way as well.

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I like Wojciech Szczesny. I know some find his personality and his arrogance abrasive but I don't. I like the guy. I liked it when he clattered Bale and winked, I liked it when he took that selfie at White Hart Lane purely because of how much it wound them up. I love the fact that he appears to truly love playing for Arsenal. I think he's a good goalkeeper and that he has been on the receiving of some very unfair over the top stick over the course of his career.

He and Petr Cech of Chelsea were joint winners of last season's Golden Glove award as they both managed to keep 16 clean sheets, proving he is a more than able 'keeper. There is no doubt in my mind though that he appears to be throwing away his chance of making it at The Arsenal. He seems to have gone backwards this season to the point where he has been dropped from the side and it wouldn't surprise me at all if Wenger decided to spend a bit of money in the summer improving our goalkeeping options rendering Szczesny surplus to requirements. 

Quite often when discussing Premiership goalkeepers with other fans you'll hear the line "he's a brilliant shot stopper". I'm sorry, but if you're a Premiership goalkeeper then surely the minimum requirement is being a good shot stopper!? The difference between a good and a world class goalkeeper is made in the goalkeeper's ability to command their area, their overall decision making, when to leave their box, when to come for crosses and effectively collect the ball etc. If you're a number one for one of the top twenty teams in the country then you are probably good enough to stop a shot with your hands.

When Wenger signed David Ospina in the summer he said it was too provide serious competition to Wojciech Szczesny, since the FA Cup defeat of Hull in January Ospina has kept goal for Arsenal. You could point to Szczesny's smoking incident as the reason for Wenger dropping him but I think that was the straw that broke the camel's back (Camel, yes that was intended.) Regardless of Wenger saying it was purely for "form reasons." The fact is Szczesny has not pushed on anything like he was supposed to. He's a good goalkeeper, who's capable of having some very good games but I just feel like he always has that "Alumunia" moment in him. The moments where you just stare and think "What? Why? What was he doing there!?" or "Oh God, Wojciech, No! Get back in your goal!"

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Szczesny is 24 years of age now, I know that is still young for a goalkeeper and he has plenty of years ahead of him to improve but when you look at Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois, who is 24 also, yet slightly younger than Szczesny and Manchester United's David De Gea who is 22 then it becomes obvious how much Szczesny has stagnated, perhaps even gone backwards. Szczesny has played 17 league games this season, in those games he has made 3 errors which led directly to a goal and made 6 defensive errors. Courtois has made 0 of either in 21 games whilst De Gea has only made 2 defensive errors in 24. Szczesny has caught the ball 34 times compared to De Gea's 50 and Courtois' 71. Stats, as I've said in blogs before, don't always show the whole picture. Liverpool's Simon Mignolet has played 23 league games this season making only 3 defensive errors but I'd rather we had Stevie Wonder in goal than him over Szczesny.

Fact is, Arsenal are reaching a stage now where they should no longer have to put up with players who are just "good enough." I'm all for giving young players a chance and if Wenger still sees potential for Szczesny to reach the levels of his rivals then we have to trust his judgement. It pains me to say it but I believe Tottenham's Hugo Lloris is the best the league has to offer and if you told me Arsenal were signing a player of his ability now then I don't think I'd be bothered either way if Szczesny were to move on. Ospina looks reliable without setting the world alight. The perfect number two almost but, for what Arsenal are looking to do in the near future, not the perfect number one. I don't think Szczesny's personality and ego would take too kindly to being a number two goalkeeper and with his place in Poland's national team also under threat I don't think he'd want to stay around too long should he not force his way back into Wenger's side soon. 

This is the second time Szczesny has been dropped from the Arsenal starting eleven due to poor form, the first being in the 12/13 season when Wenger eventually dropped him for the away game to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, instead preferring Lukasz Fabianski. Fabianski kept his place until falling to injury upon which Szczesny returned along with good form. 

I know some footballers enjoy the odd cigarette and that really doesn't bother me, Wenger clearly doesn't like his players puffing away though and to be caught smoking in the changing rooms after a game (its 2015 not 1921 before anyone says "that used to happen all the time") just isn't on. Szczesny has been pictured smoking before and I doubt Wenger liked it so to be caught doing it again straight after a match I can't imagine sat at all well with the Arsenal manager. Well, it didn't, as the response and talk of a £20,000 fine shows. 

Szczesny's poor form, rumours of a bad attitude and his being caught smoking in the shower and the fact he has been dropped since may mean this season's remaining FA Cup games are the last of which we see Wojciech Szczesny representing Arsenal. Arsene Wenger is a very patient manager, sometimes painfully too patient but even he may have been pushed too far and with a lack of opportunities to give Szczesny a real chance to stake a claim to regain his place, unless Ospina himself has a bout of the Almunia's and/or suffers an injury, then maybe Szczesny has become another "could have been."     

He could shape up, prove me and everyone who is doubting him wrong and fulfill the potential we all thought at one stage he had, eventually becoming as good as Gianluigi Buffon......maybe. Probably not.

 Tell us what you think! If you agree, or have a different view, please leave a comment in the comments section or why not write a response or your own article on YouWrite?

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Tags: Arsene Wenger, Arsenal, AFC, FA Cup, Wojciech Szczesny, David Ospina

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