Is Wojciech Szczesny the right long-term goalkeeper for Arsenal?


There are parts of Wojciech Szczesny’s game which are really impressive, and then there are some which are less so.

Sczcesny reminds me a lot of Ben Foster: he has a lot of natural talent, but he’s also prone to making poor decisions and allowing his concentration to fluctuate throughout games. That was the fundamental difference between Foster failing at Manchester United and being a success at West Bromwich Albion. At a smaller club, the save-to-error ratio for a goalkeeper is more one-sided, and subsequently mistakes are less noticeable and generally less costly.

It’s the old maxim of goalkeeping: the very best can be spectators for 89 minutes, and points-savers in the last 60 seconds.

Szczesny has only just turned 23, and so it’s impossible to say whether he’ll shed the negatives in his game over time, but he just seems more error-prone than most at that age. It’s the perennial disclaimer: “yeah, but he’s young – and even younger for a goalkeeper”. Yes, he is, but if you compare him to those of similar age who are considered elite in his position – the Thibaut Courtois/Marc-Andre ter Stegen types – he isn’t as far advanced, despite being older.

His mentality is an issue, too. Confidence is key to goalkeeping, we know that, but Szczesny seems to be a strange character type: he’s very keen on talking to the media and making proclamations about himself or other teams, but that bravado seems to melt away when he steps onto the pitch. He’s like an Apprentice contestant: quasi-arrogant. He’s not frail, as such, but there’s certainly some vulnerability to him – as we’ve seen this season, with Arsene Wenger having to take him out of the side for that very reason.

Maybe this all seems terribly contrived and hypothetical, but with Wenger supposedly having so much cash at his disposal this Summer, would it not be worth investigating the possibility of bringing someone in who offers more stability at the position? Arsenal have had goalkeeping issues ever since David Seaman retired, and wouldn’t now be a good time to take ownership of that problem?

Szczesny’s talented, I’m not trying to say he’s not, but is he a big club goalkeeper? He makes some tremendous saves, but would he dislodge the incumbents at any of other top-six sides? No – and that’s not good enough for Arsenal.

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