David Seaman, Jens Lehmann, Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabianski. The decline of Arsenal goalkeepers abilities has dropped dramatically in recent years. Successful goalkeepers, such as the first two mentioned, have won trophies such as the Premier League or an FA Cup and Jens Lehmann, now retired, was in the squad that went to that rainy night in Paris when Arsenal lost the Champions League finale to Barcelona.
David Seaman was an England national goalkeeper and Jens Lehmann the German one. Manuel Almunia has never been selected to play for Spain and has tried to work his way into an England squad lacking in goalkeeping talents. This cry for attention has been practically ignored and he still does not have any international experience.
To come now to Lukasz Fabianski, the mercurial Polish goalkeeper has obvious abilities but it also adept at making glaring and costly mistakes. Several howlers last year, notably those at Porto could have been the last game in his Arsenal career. Continued faith from manager and mentor, Lukasz Fabianski has restored confidence in the Pole who grows in every game. Arsene Wenger is known to have done this before, notably with Emmanuel Eboue who rose after a series of poor performance where he was booed off the pitch after being substituted. Fabianski will grow and play well, like against Everton and then make a dreadful mistake against Newcastle and lose the game.
The secret of success in football terms is having a strong spine to support its strike force. A confident goalkeeper, a solid center-back pairing, a creative midfielder and a decisive striker are all necessary for a title push. Arsenal are a creative force that play, and excuse me for being biased, beautiful football. Talents such as Samir Nasri, captain and emblem Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere and Andrey Arshavin flourish under the careful tutelage of Arsene Wenger. Arsenal however, do not have a strong spine. The reason for five barren years without a trophy are neither beyond comprehension or out of their reach. Arsenal has the financial muscle and the potential to attract players that will lead Arsenal to glory. Arsenal’s cautious financial approach has allowed them to both built a new, state of the art stadium and stay relatively clear of deep financial mire.
However, a porous defense and a relatively inexperienced side have contributed to the face that Arsenal have been without a trophy for too long. Laurent Koscielny is a good talent but lacks a partner in the absence of Thomas Vermaelen. Sebastian Squillaci seems ill at ease and Johan Djourou is at times not up to the level of play. Alex Song is strong and powerful and has added a goalscoring dimension to his game but is still too prone to being booked and giving away dangerous free kicks. Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy have their qualities but can still be beaten too easily and can be caught out.
Up front, Arsenal are notorious for two things; over-elaboration and lack of spearhead power. Since the departure of Thierry Henry and more recently Emmanuel Adebayor have left a void in the number 10 spot. Robin van Persie is fantastic at times but is often injured for long periods of time. For all his claims in the media, Nicklas Bendtner cannot cement his place in the Arsenal IX. Marouane Chamakh will develop and grow with time. Over elaboration is a problem as well. Too many times Arsenal will fail to kill games and try to play the pretty football and make the “perfect” goal.
A striker is at times necessary but as many experts have pointed out, Arsenal’s inability to rely on their defence at times make them the architects of their own downfall. Strengthening their goal will provide both confidence and dependence for the team to be able to rely on. January is the perfect time for Wenger to invest in a talent, he must do it in order to promote their title push. Without a substantial trophy this year, Fabregas will probably leave, as he has already threatened to do so.