Jens Vs Almunia… Who is King of the Keepers?

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After writing a rash piece about who I thought could be leaving Arsenal this winter, I reassessed what I wrote and then considered some of your comments.

One of the comments from Hadley read:

‘I really do feel that too many Arsenal ’supporters’ have been too quick to jump on the anti-Jens bandwagon which has been perpetrated by the media and opposition fans ever since he joined Arsenal. Yes he is eccentric but as far as I’m aware he hasn’t shot anyone – I’m sure that much of the anti-Lehmann baiting over the years has been partly due to the fact that he is German (you even said it yourself with his ‘German Antics’.)

Robbie Keane stamps on his feet like a pathetic spoilt child and Sky say he is just ‘using his experience’, yet when Lehmann pushed him away HE is accused of being childish. If Keane jumped on my feet like that I’d nut him one. Did anyone stop to consider that maybe Wenger has mainly kept faith with Almunia because he has done okay and wants to send a message to the rest of the team that if you come in and do well you wont immediately be replaced by experience (a la Flamini.)

I don’t know what Wenger sees in training but apart from those 2 freak lapses of concentration Lehmann’s performances this season and last have been excellent – against Wales he saved 4 one on one’s. Whether Wenger’s stats or what he sees in training tells him that Jens is deteriorating or not I don’t know but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him return to the team and sooner rather than later. Almunia is a nice guy and a decent premiership keeper but he is not (at least yet) in the highest class that Lehmann is (or at least certainly was) or that Seaman was. We’ve now conceded 7 in the last 4 games so it’ll be interesting to see what Wenger does midweek.’

This got me thinking… had Jens shot someone? If he did, how did he dispose of the body… I reckon he would cannibalise the remains because consuming the evidence is the best way, right?

Jokes aside, maybe I was too rash in judging Lehmann.

Maybe you can compare this situation to a beautiful woman (This metaphor can be reversed)?

When you are with a beautiful woman you are much more likely to forgive her misgivings. i.e. Personality deficiencies, mood swings, nagging, but if you are with and ugly woman, they tend to hack you off pretty quickly and you are a lot quicker to criticise.

Lehmann is perhaps the ugly woman of goal keeping. He is unorthodox, he whines and moans at corner kicks and he often has a moment of handling madness in a match that resonates in the mind long after the game. I think his craziness highlights his flaws because everyone is watching him after he causes as scene.

A keeper like Cech (Perhaps the Vanessa Feltz Agnes Dean of the Keeping world) keeps his mouth shut and just gets on with it. He has made mistakes this season, but no one is crowing about his ability.

What I am saying is people love to blame Lehmann. People blame him for letting in 30 yard screamers, people moan about him letting in bullet 2 yard headers and people moan about him hoofing the ball when he could have laid it off.

So half a season in, with Almunia at the helm, what do we think as Arsenal fans?

Almunia has never really set the goalkeeping world alight with a commanding performance. Many of you will say he hasn’t done much wrong this season but lets be honest, he hasn’t needed to do this much this season. My Granny could have played in goal most of the matches this year… seriously… she is good.

Almunia made a mistake in the ManU game which in the end cost us the 3 points. Since then he has been ok. He played well at Villa, he let in a soft goal against Newcastle (MYLES PALMER SAID SO) and he rushed out needlessly against ‘Boro.

Overall you would have to say he has been average.

So who is the lesser of two evils (Is that fair?)?

Jens Lehmann has huge experience, he has played some amazing games for us and I think we might need him coming into the crucial part of the season. Can we afford another Almunia rush of blood to the head against Chelsea? Can we finish the season league winners with Almunia in goal? I don’t think so.

So if we let Jens back, will he revert back to his corner Theatrics and shoddy handling?

Gunnerblog and Goonerholic think that Wednesday’s game was a good bye Jens game, and if I’m honest, I would probably agree with that. Too much bad behaviour from the German over the last three months!

Wenger has been making some interesting noises though, Wednesday morning he said,

‘His ‘long-term future’ depends on, at 38, what you call a ‘long-term future’,” the Frenchman said. “We haven’t spoken about that.’

That would indicate to me that he is off in Januaury or it is being discussed. However after the game on Wednesday he said,

‘I feel he had a good game, I don’t think he can do a lot on the goal. I decided to play him because he’s a hundred per-cent dedicated in training, because he’s a top class keeper and I want everybody to keep in competition if I can. For example, Fabianski behind is top class and he will play on Tuesday in Blackburn.’

Make what you will of Wengers comments!

For me personally, I have more confidence in Jens than I do in Almunia. I think he makes the better saves and he is more likely to rescue a game for you than throw it away. Almunia has been solidish (sic) this season, but he hasn’t excelled by any stretch of the imagination. I think what this whole article points to, not just with me but with all Arsenal fans, is that we are not happy with the Goalkeeping situation at Arsenal. The same was true last year with the right back slot, an issue was superbly rectified in the summer.

So what do we know? Well, Jens is off in the summer, thats for sure. I don’t think Almunia is a long term solution, so I think we should either put Fabianski in as number one next year (and hope), or purchase a keeper who merits the number one jersey at a club like Arsenal. I think goalkeeper is the one position in football you don’t get the chance to make mistakes in. You can either hack it, or you’re out (Manninger, Wright, Taibi). There is no bedding in period like normal players get, so let hope Arsene gets it right this summer.

I know I have been a critic of Jens in the past, but he is still a quality keeper who offers us more than the average Almunia. That said, we know that Big Al will be starting on Sunday against the mighty chavs, a game that I pray isn’t decided by a goalkeeping error!

On the subject of Chelsea, Arsene Wenger is giving nothing away with regards to who will be back, it seems players once thought injured may yet be un-injured (<-not a word I know)! I feel I owe Blogger Geoff an apology, for it was he and he alone who suggested Wenger maybe using a some form of smokescreen to confuse Avram and Co with regards to injuries. Read here for confirmation of the shocking truth.

Let your thoughts be known in the comments section! See you there!

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Arsenal to sign Englishman, German to leave and Croat prefers spain

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Good afternoon Grovers!

What a boring day its been! Its almost like yesterday didn’t happen? I think everyone accepted yesterday was a nailed on win, so theres not much buzz around the websites with regards to the result.

I thought I’d round up some of this afternoons snippets for you!

Firstly, Arsenal look set to sign Gillingham whizz kid Luke Freeman. Gills boss Mark Stimson had this to say,

‘If my 15-year-old son had the chance to go to Arsenal, even as a Tottenham fan, you couldn’t turn it down.’

Seems pretty certain he is talking to us then! Read more about him here and read the full article here.

Rumours have also resurfaced this afternoon with regards to Jens Lehmann’s future. The Evening Standard reckon he could be loaned out to City for the reamainder of the season, and if some of Wenger’s quotes are to be taken a face value you would have to think a move was on the cards.

Young Bulgarian Dimitrov has been offered a trial with Arsenal, he had this to say to 7 Dni Sport (My favourite Bulgarian Sports station may I add!),

‘Arsenal are a great team, I admire the way they play but I did not even dream to be invited by them.’

The attacker made his professional debut for Levski aged 16 and has scored nine goals in 32 games since then, impressive…

The final bit of gossip is a bit of an anti climax if you thought Eduardo’s buddy Modric was joining us this transfer window. Sadly he had this to say yesterday,

‘I’ve read in papers that Chelsea would sign me and then loan me to Dutch side PSV. That’s nonsense.’

‘I do not know anything about that. But the transfer period is a long one and we will see. My wish was always to move to Spain. I’d like to leave this winter.’

I didn’t like the look of you anyway… and your mates not playing that well anyway!

Lastly, RV to the P has confirmed himself fit for the Super Sunday clash with Chavski United!

“I am fit if the boss picks me – but not 100 percent. I can easily make 60-65 minutes, but after two months out you cannot make 90 minutes.”

Hooray for Robin!

Have a nice evening and make sure you check out Jens Vs Almunia tomorrow!

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Morale boosted as Arsenal prepare for the Drogbaless Wonders!

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I didn’t know I was writing todays blog until about 15 minutes ago, so this won’t be a long one!

It’s pretty tough to take much away from last night’s game. The Romanians were one of the worst teams I have seen play at the Emirates, so to judge anyone based on last nights game would be tough.

Still, we did what was required with an under strength team. If you can just imagine; for the sake of this post, that Bucharest were good I suppose you could say some players really stood out last night. So instead of reviewing the game blow for blow, I’m just going to list the players I thought did well.

Diaby

He has had a rough time this season with some crappy performances and an abundance of injuries, but last night he stuck his long telescopic leg out and latched on onto a Sagna cross, took a touch and then lashed the ball home into the top corner. It was a great bit of skill and a real strikers finish. He had a great game, making some good tackles and going on a few magical runs. He looked like a man full of confidence and was taking every opportunity to have a dig at goal.

My brother said that he would play him instead of Eboue on Sunday, and based on last nights performance I’d have to agree.

Nikki B

I said before the game that if there was anyone I wanted to get a goal, it was the Dane with the big b*****ks. I think he has looked the best of the rest whenever he has been given an opportunity to come on and last night he had a blinder. He was all over the place showing some sublime skill and some great touches. His goal was an inch perfect finish and well deserved. I hope he is on the bench on Sunday because I really fancy him to do something if he comes on this Sunday against the Chav’s

Theo

I was surprised to see Theo start and I was hoping he was going to show us a bit of grit and purpose. I don’t think we were disappointed were we? He was all over the place, terrorising the Romanian defence with his pace… and I’m going to say it… power! There was no getting knocked off the ball for Theo last night despite some heavy challenges from the opposition. He showed flashes of brilliance last night and his pace is phenomoanl! All he needs is a few goals to start justifying his potential!

Song

I’m not the biggest fan. I think he is usually a liability, but I do want Arsenal players to come good, I really do. Last night I will hold my hands up and say the boy done good (Excuse the poor English).

He passed well all night, showed a few cheeky pieces of skill and he didn’t lose the ball every time he came into possession! I think he started the move for the second goal? Well played Song!

Denilson

I was watching Denilson to see if I could work out why he hasn’t been getting games so far this season. I think it has something to do with his power. For a short stocky player he does get knocked off the ball a lot. I didn’t think he shone last night against weak opposition and I was a little disappointed if I’m honest. I’m sure he will come good, but I wouldn’t consider him for Sunday.

PLEASE GET WELL SOON FLAMINI!

RvP

An unexpected start from Robin, but boy did he look sharp! I couldn’t believe how fit he looked, tearing up and down the pitch, bringing people into the game, having shots whenever he could! We’ve missed this man and I am so glad he is back and looking good! If I were a betting man, I’d stick 50p on him to score on Sunday!

Did anyone else feel a bit sorry Jens? He had nothing to do all game and then got done by a flukey header, unlucky Jens!

So in conclusion, it was crappy opposition, but at least we won and morale doesn’t take notice of who you are playing!

I was listening to the Chief Editor of The Times Sports section (Martin Samuel???) talk to Alan Parry this morning (On the radio of course, I wasn’t earwigging on the train or anything…). He reckons Arsenal are clear favourites for Sunday and reckons Chelsea are in trouble without there most prolific performer. I am a little less confident than him, but he writes football articles for a living? He can’t be wrong… surely?

Bring on the Drogbaless wonders!

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