Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Wojciech Szczesny Loss of Form and the Goalkeeping Situation

Wojciech Szczesny is a promising young keeper who over the 2011/12 season was outstanding and proved this season that the Arsenal had a keeper on their hands who really could become the next Arsenal number 1. His shot-stopping, reactions and penalty saving abilities quite frankly saved our arses on a number of occasions. Most memorably his penalty save against probably the most clinically finishing and deadly striker in the serie a Antonio Di Natale in our Champions League Qualifier against Udinese which got us the Champions League Spot we were all praying for. As well as this his MOTM performance against Liverpool (which included another great penalty save) which kept us in the running for a top 4 finish. 
This season however Wojciech Szczesny has almost been a completely different keeper he has been sloppy, laxidasical and has suffered a lot through lack of concentration. I feel his lack of concentration and loss of form is down to a few factors. The first factor to affect Wojciech is lack of competition. Wojciech has had next to no competition since the minute he became Arsenals number 1 and as he has not had to fight for his place, he has no motivation to try his best to perform to the best of his abilities as he knew he wouldn't get dropped even if he had a howler (which he has had a few of this season). He didn't have the fear of being dropped. Next I come onto factor number 2 which I feel is over-confidence which I feel has been caused also by lack of competition, the fact he doesn't get dropped after playing badly and because he is in my opinion much better than the other Goalkeepers at our club. Now this over-confidence comes into play in games when Arsenal are attacking. As when Arsenal are attacking and are keeping possession and keeping the opposition in the half or when Arsenal are taking corners Szczesny really has nothing to do so this causes him to relax. But the minute the opposition start to counter attack Wojciech tends to get in big trouble and as shown when Aston Villa scored from a counter attack at the Emirates earlier in the season Wojciech will get caught napping and tends to concede, in this case Andreas Weimann shot early which caught Wojciech off-guard and it was 1-1 (luckily for us a little magician called Santi Cazorla saved us and Szczesny from embarrassment). Another example of Szczesnys over-confidence is when during the liverpool match he was doing his reckless twirls in the middle of our own box while under pressure by Daniel Sturridge instead of doing the sensible thing and clearing it.

 My 3rd and final factor is that Szczesny because he has become Arsenal number 1 so fast and so early in his career he has already lost his motivation because (apart from the obvious of winning trophys) he has accomplished the highest feat he can at Arsenal Football Club being number 1. To him his place is already automatic and he struggles to motivate himself for most games as to him they are normal, nothing special. Apart from big matches such as maybe the 2nd leg of the Bayern Munich game. Now finding the short term solution to this problem I think is simple. Drop him. As this would hopefully make him realize he isn't undroppable and that for him to get his place he needs to fight and work hard. Now this is where I feel Arsene Wengers genius comes in. As I believe that before the bayern game Wenger would have wanted to drop Szczesny for quite a while as he had been poor for a while, but for Wenger to get his point across and for it to have the most impact on Szczesny, he had to do it on the game that Szczesny would have been most motivated for. The game Szczesny would have thought Arsenal would of needed him the most. The Bayern match was the perfect opportunity to do that as in that game if Arsenal would have conceded would have been game over. So in came Fabianski.
Now the reaction to Szczesnys dropping was in my opinion a double plus. As I feel since Szczesny has been dropped he has handled it well (apart from his dad having a bit of a whinge) and has come out and said he is committed to Arsenal and that he will try and win back his place in the starting eleven. Which is the reaction you would want and luckily for him recently Fabianski got an injury which meant Szczesny got a call-up back into the Arsenal starting eleven in the game against Fulham in which I felt he played well and looked a lot more determind to do his best. I think this experience should be character building for him and hopefully will help him become a better keeper so he can prove to us again he can make it as Arsenal number 1.  The second plus to this move by Wenger is that we have seen a brand new Fabianski one that looked solid, strong and so far mistake free.
Now I think the last solution was a very good short term fix which I think has worked well but as a long term solution I don't feel its enough. Fabianski could have a case that he should be first choice keeper after a good run of form but with his contract running out and the club not looking like they are going to renew his contract it seems like Fabianski is on his way out. So I think we still need to sign a top class experienced Premier League keeper and I think the man for the job is Asmir Begovic he is strong, a great shot stopper, consistent and vocal everything a keeper should be. If we bought him he would become our first choice and would hopefully be a role model for Szczesny to copy and improve by following his example and advice. Having a keeper you can rely on can really improve a team and I think all top teams need one the Invincibles had Lehmann, the treble winning United team had Schmeichal and hopefully next year we will have Begovic and in the future we could have a much more experienced and improved Wojciech Szczesny. 

1 comment:

  1. With you on Begovic and wrote the same a few weeks back Michael