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Friday, 28 January 2011

Wenger confirms Szczesny as Arsenal No. 1, Carlos Vela on his way

A little bonus, unexpected blogette this evening. Due to some personal stuff the unsociable shift didn't materialise today so you get an extra slice of the good stuff. I'll keep it brief as I'll be previewing the Huddersfield match in the morning.

Arsene Wenger has been talking all things football today. Among the subjects covered is the goalkeeping situation, brought up because Manuel Almunia will return to the squad on Sunday (more on that tomorrow). Arsene has admitted that Szczesny is his first-choice goalkeeper right now as he has done nothing to warrant being left out. You might recall that I said the other week how I felt Wenger now had the excuse that he has been looking for to play the younger Pole. While it's unfortunate for Lukasz Fabianski to get injured while hoping to take his opportunity (and he hasn't done badly at all in fairness to him) I don't think there are too many who are upset at seeing Wojciech between the sticks. He is very young, and mistakes will happen - Sagna got knocked out cold the other night when Szczesny came flapping at a ball in to the box - but it is how he reacts to those errors that will be key. When Fabianski and Almunia make a cock-up it tends to fester for the next few games but I don't see that happening too much with Szczesny. Wenger is right, at the moment, to make him first-choice and unless a world-class stopper comes in while he develops more quietly, he should keep his place for the long-term. I remember well the effect that being left out had on Alex Manninger in 1998. Having put us in pole position for the Title, Manninger found himself playing second-fiddle to David Seaman again, and his confidence was irrevocably shaken. Admittedly, Szczesny doesn't have a David Seaman type figure lording it at Arsenal these days so he should be quite safe.

According to stories doing the rounds Carlos Vela has signed for West Bromwich Albion. We knew he was on his way out of Arsenal, at least for the rest of the season, but I've yet to see anything official on this. Ultimately Vela is not good enough for Arsenal. I was there when he scored a hat-trick on debut in the Carling Cup and thought we'd found another gem, with real skill and ability. It was, sadly, a false dawn and I've never yet seen any example of the pace he is supposed to possess. He is currently banned by Mexico over his off-field excesses and, if stories are to be believed, Arsene Wenger has not been happy in the past over Vela's fondness for a San Miguel or three. I very much doubt we will ever see Carlos Vela in an Arsenal shirt again, even if he is joining another club only on loan. The best thing for all parties would be to see him go to pastures new and attempt to build a career at a different level of expectation. I wish him luck, and I'm sorry it didn't work out for him at Arsenal, especially after such an amazing start.

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