Tag Archives: goalie

Wojicech Szczesny – Were We Right To Sell?

Posted originally on Arsenal Mania

Wojicech Szczesny spent 11 years at Arsenal. In that time, and growing as a player through the Gunners ranks, his attachment to the club unsurprisingly grew. Over a decade at the club he supported as a boy, the bond the Pole had with Arsenal only became stronger.


So it was with an undoubtedly heavy heart that he bade farewell to North London recently, when he was offered the chance to play for Juventus and work alongside Gianluigi Buffon – the keeper that most consider to be this generation’s finest exponent between the sticks.


The prospect for his career was simply too good to turn down, but was it the right decision for Arsenal?












With last season’s miasma of horrors still so hard to erase from our mind’s eye, many of us fans looked to Szczesny’s efforts on loan at Roma, and with Petr Cech letting his high standards slip – it appeared as though we had the perfect remedy to clam up our porous team.


There are many other facets to this transfer though, that have not risen to the surface as prominently as the above though.


Szczesny performed way above expectation in Serie A last campaign, but the level of competition between the two league’s is still different. A perfect example of this is Gervinho – the Ivorian was an abject failure in an Arsenal shirt, but when playing for Roma only a few seasons ago, he looked like an accomplished professional. It is especially easier to grab clean sheets in the attritional playing styles of Italy too.


True, it looked as if the Polish keeper with a penchant for selfies at White Hart Lane had indeed acquired the one thing that stopped him being a great keeper at Arsenal – consistency. We can give him the benefit of the doubt, but can we forget?


Twice, the Number1 shirt was in his grasp in his time in London, and twice, continued erratic displays meant that Wenger had no choice but to drop him – once for Lukasz Fabainski and once for David Ospina. Five seasons was spent trying to establish himself and firmly rebuff all other goalkeeping competitors, but he never quite managed it. Whether it be silly mistakes on the pitch, like when he fouled Gabby Agbonlahor in the 3-1 defeat to Aston Villa, or when he was caught smoking in the showers, Szczesny couldn’t quite leave the doubts behind.


Now, after two excellent seasons in Rome, he was given an opportunity to work at Juventus. It would have been impossible to turn down, but what really rankles is that, why did Arsenal not hold out for more money?


Considering the experience that Szczesny has, and his still relatively young age, his transfer worth must have been higher than the reported meagre fee that we have received. When a young English keeper plays one season of top-flight football, gets relegated and then commands a £30m fee – that should have correlated into a higher fee for Wojicech too.


The fanbase, when poring over tweets and posts on social media, seems to be undecided on whether Wojicech Szczesny was the long-term answer in goal for our club, but we can all agree that he is worth far more than Juventus are scantily paying us. 

David Seaman – The Safest Of Hands.

The old adage goes, ‘You have to be mad to be a goalkeeper.’ This stereotype is a perfect fit for the majority of the men between the sticks, as they fling head and body into situations and places that would normally warrant full-body protection gear. 

Not only is it physical danger that makes up a large part of their vocation. Long periods of solitude during games, with only vitriolic masses as company, goalkeepers spend a huge amount of time attempting to stay alert, battling their own wits as the play unfolds away from them.

David Seaman does not fit this well-worn molding. Standing tall at 1.93 metres, the giant keeper was the anti-thesis of the usual mental framework of a man wearing Number One on his back.

Perhaps his greatest strength was his zen-like temperament. No matter the battle that was ensuing in front of him, or even if it was directed at him, the deep-voiced Yorkshireman simply got on with his game. 

Was it his level of concentration that allowed him to brush off any extraneous niggles that would waylay a regular goalkeeper? Or was it merely his upbringing and his personality that meant he cared little for drama? Either way, it allowed Seaman to fully exert his towering influence into being the sure footing that his defence needed.

The big man from Leeds that would go on to be known as ‘Safe Hands’ started his career with his hometown club, Leeds United, but he didn’t feature in the Managers plans, so a £4k move to Peterborough United gave his career the escape route it needed.

Two full seasons in the then 4th Division were enough to see him catapult up to the 2nd, with a move to Birmingham City. Again, two full seasons was all it took for David to earn another transfer up the leagues – this time to QPR.

This gave him the spotlight his dazzling talent deserved, and he soon piqued the interest of England boss Bobby Robson. It wasn’t only Robson and England that were sniffing round the Yorkshireman either.

Arsenal had an inside man at QPR, and he was ideally placed to run the rule over Seaman. His goalkeeping coach at Loftus Road was none other than 1971 Double winning keeper Bob Wilson, and Arsenal’s gentleman had a very high opinion of David.

Before the season of 1990/91 began, Arsenal and George Graham moved to bring him to Highbury. The current Gunners keeper was the popular John Lukic, but Graham badly wanted who he thought would be the future England Number One for years to come. He wasn’t wrong. 

His first season at Arsenal underlined his talent in the most emphatic way. 23 clean sheets and just 18 goals conceded embossed and emboldened Graham’s comments before purchasing Seaman – “I still think John Lukic is one of the top three goalkeepers in the country. I just think David Seaman is the best.”

Thirteen seasons of excellence was David Seaman’s legacy at the club. A hatful of trophies were symptomatic of his professionalism and he must surely rank as one of the finest exponents of goalkeeping the Premier League has ever seen.

It is criminal to round up Seaman’s Arsenal career in just a few paragraphs, but to truly do the big man justice, you would be reading this article from sun up to sundown. The man with the famous ponytail and best moustache since Magnum P.I gave our club the most assured presence in the box, and this in turn was a massive factor for why our club could boast the finest defence the League has ever seen. For how good can a defence be without a great goalkeeper behind them?

The majority of non-Gooners will always recall Seaman being lobbed by Ronaldinho, and allied with Nayim’s lob for Zaragoza, means that Seaman will unfairly have his critics. A goalkeeper has the hardest job on the pitch though – in what other position can you play well for 89 minutes but a simple mistake will more often than not result in disaster?

Seaman was the silent sentry that stood guard for well over a decade, and his consistently epic displays spread out over such a long tenure spells out a goalkeeping career that deserves to stand tall alongside the greatest that the world has had to offer. Dino Zoff, Lev Yashin, Gianluigi Buffon, Andoni Zubizaretta, and Peter Schmeichel are regarded as the examples that all young keepers must aspire to. 

David Seaman deserves to be included in that glittering group of goalies. 

Safe Hands was a more than warranted moniker for him. 

Ospina has the Gloves, has Szczesny dropped the ball?

Originally posted on Goonersphere.

David Seaman. Bob Wilson. Jack Kelsey. Pat Jennings. Jens Lehmann.
These are the names that current goalkeeping glove fillers David Ospina and Wojicech Szczesny must aspire to. To be able to match the achievements of these heroic men that guarded the Arsenal goal – Ospina and Szczesny have to eliminate the doubts that linger around them.

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