Arsenal: Why Wojciech Szczęsny Will Become The Best Keeper In The World

Before the season started every armchair pundit said Arsenal desperately needed a keeper, but the form of Wojciech Szczęsny has proved that to be bunkum and showed that he can be the world's best next keeper...
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Before the season started every armchair pundit said Arsenal desperately needed a keeper, but the form of Wojciech Szczęsny has proved that to be bunkum and showed that he can be the world's best next keeper...

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Chezzer is in doubt as to who is number one...

Before the season started every armchair pundit said Arsenal desperately needed a keeper, but the form of Wojciech Szczęsny has proved that to be bunkum and showed that he can be the world's best next keeper...

'Oh no... he didn't just?'

'How did that happen?'

'Don't come for that!'

'My Grandma would have moved quicker!'

'Bring back Bob Wilson!'

Just a select few of the politer jibes you'd hear coming from the stands at the Grove over the past 5 years since Jens Lehmann was shown the back door after two dreadful mistakes against Blackburn. Yep, replacing that mad old German has been a tough task, mainly because Arsene Wenger has been on some sort of bet with Pat Rice that he can do it on a budget. Calamity Almunia was firstly given the green jersey, Mad Jens said he wasn't a proper keeper and he wasn't wrong, the Spaniard was possibly one of the most average keepers the Premier League had ever seen.

The illusion of Al was that he was never quite terrible enough to merit being dropped, but he was never quite amazing enough to merit standing alongside great number ones like Pat Jennings, Bob Wilson, John Lukic and David Seaman. We needed a keeper who could win us games, not just make a few ok saves a game. Almunia was world-class at conceding world-class goals. He made many horror mistakes during his time at the club, but probably the most disappointing was the freekick he conceded against United in the semi final of the Champions League in 2009.

We'd all been given flags to get the atmosphere flying at the Emirates, we'd never see flags before, so we were enthusiastically waving them to ensure maximum usage, we were singing, which was a rarity, the atmosphere was absolutely electric, Ronaldo gets a freekick 32 yards out ten minutes in, he postures like he's ready to defecate standing, he takes his run up smashes it at Almunia's inside post, the keeper follows the direction but lets it slip in at shoulder height, spectacularly diving 2 seconds behind it. It was a good goal, but for me, it was the type of goal a semi finalist Champions League keepers should not be conceding.

His career went down the toilet from there. Wenger tried to replace him at the start of last season with Pepe Reina firstly, after that bid fell through he went for Mark Schwarzer, sadly though, he refused to spend more than £2million on him, standard when you only have £35million in the bank. We missed out on him when Fulham's back up keeper picked up a fluke injury. So we went into the season with Almunia as number one. He bombed in preseason, he bombed at the start of the year and he was eventually replaced with Fabianski. He also made a few mistakes, but held the fort briefly. He was a great shot-stopper, but more in the David James mold, amazing, or diabolical. He picked up and injury and it was time for a new hero to make the penalty box his own on a long-term lease.

Arsenal have unearthed a diamond, he's 21 years old and he he has future best keeper in the world written all over his career.

Wojciech Szczęsny (Chezzer for short) was a legend before he was anywhere near the first team. Any man who puts so much weight on a bench press they break both their arms is the type of lunatic I want marshaling my goal area. Any keeper that goes to lower league Brentford and becomes a hero in 10 or so games is also the type of keeper I want in my team. Lower league shot stopping is far more brutal, the fact that he was saving penalties, winning man of the match awards and earning YouTube videos out of his performances was enough for me.

Arsenal kept him close to the first team the next season because he was in the last year of his deal, the fear inside the club is that he'd sign somewhere else, namely, Manchester United, my guess is they brought him close to the first team and told him to be patient. Patient he was, his chance game against Newcastle where he made a few very impressive saves after a slightly erratic start. This keeper was different to anything we'd seen in the last few years, he was confident, he shouted at his defence and he was brave.

His game went from strength to strength, the fans knew they were onto a winner. The only weakness in his game was his lazy distribution, something that he could work on in his spare time, no big deal. What made his game so impressive compared to others are as followed.

1. Box Domination: If you want to make it in the Premiership, don't come over here thinking that an A* GCSE in shot stopping is going to make you a local legend. You need to be able to dominate your box physically. If you can't deal with crosses, you might as well stay in Spain with Athletico Madrid and stick to stealing chorizo, not Krispy Kremes. Chezzer deals with crosses confidently and comfortably. Our keepers were so bad at one point, teams like Blackburn and Stoke were firing crosses at the keeper as successful tactic. This happens no more.

2. World Class Shot Stopping: Everyone can shot stop. When people say, 'oh, but he's a great shot stopper', it's always lost on me, EVERY professional keeper is a great shot stopper, that's how they caught the eye of scouts in their youth. Are they world-class super amazing shot stoppers, that is what I really want to know? There aren't many of them. Chezzer is in that elite, he keeps out those shots he has no right to keep out. His recent near post at Swansea was incredible, his one on one save against Adebayor was outrageous and his penalty save against Udinese was one of the best I've ever seen. Forget that lapse against Spurs, it was the balls fault.

3. Presence: When Almunia stood in goal at the Emirates, he always had the look of a man who'd just been told the Police were waiting in the dressing room wanting to talk about what was on the harddrive of the PC they'd seized from his garden shed earlier in the day. He wasn't a keeper. To be a great number one, you have to have the look of a warrior, you have to have that mad glint of arrogance in your eye that says, 'not today Drogba, I own this goal, not you.' Finally we have that, he's as big a character on the pitch as he is off it. Pledging his allegiance to Arsenal, mocking Barcelona, joking about Ashley Coles poor penalty, he has all the lovable rogue attributes Jens Lehmann had.

So what doesn't he have?

Well, he doesn't have a full season under his belt. For me, if he manages that and he continues his superb form, there's no doubt in my mind he'll fall under the 'world class' bracket of keepers and I'd probably go as far as saying he could be classed as one of the best in the Premiership.

Arsenal have unearthed a diamond, he's 21 years old and he he has future best keeper in the world written all over his career.

You can find more of Peter's work on LeGrove, the Arsenal blog where you can have an opinion not get one, click here to read more

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