Our two Poles have flourished this season, and have been fighting it out for the number one spot.
Fabianski started the campaign as our second keeper to Manuel Almunia, but after some high-profile errors by the Spaniard, Fabianski became Wenger’s first choice.
However, Fabianski suffered a season-ending shoulder injury on 5th January, which paved the way for our younger Polish goalie to become a fan favourite. His hilarious tweets and his confidence on the pitch attracted the attention of Arsenal fans, but it was his presence between the sticks that has labelled him as our new number one.
Both our Polish keepers were signed from Legia Warsaw. Fabianski was their number one and helped them to win the Polish league championship, as well as being awarded as the best keeper in the league. Szczesny, who is 5 years younger than his teammate, was in the youth setup at Warsaw, but joined Arsenal a year earlier. Wojciech signed for us in 2006, whereas Lukasz came in 2007.
Szczesny spent some time in Arsenal’s youth team before being hoisted up to the first team in 2009. He spent most of the 2009/10 season at Brentford, where he received endless praise from the manager and his club mates.
This campaign, Szczesny made 23 appearances for Arsenal, and Fabianski made 20. It seemed likely that Fabianski would remain our number one keeper for the season, despite failing to endear himself to the Emirates faithful. He was quite hit-and-miss, with a fantastic performance in a 0-3 win against Man City, followed soon after by a poor game at home to Newcastle, when he was criticised for Andy Carroll’s winning goal.
I don’t see Fabianski as a title-winning player for Arsenal. Nevertheless, he certainly has a place in the squad. Arsenal.com remarks that his save against Wigan in the Carling Cup in 2008 is still regarded as one of the best saves by an Arsenal keeper in recent times. There is no doubt that Fabianski is an excellent shot stopper – he may even be better than Szczesny in this department. But his errors have cost him. Not only those during 2010/11, but also the mistakes he made in the previous season against Wigan and Blackburn that were certainly a factor in our end-of-season deterioration.
Szczesny made only his second appearance for Arsenal in October of last year, when he kept a clean sheet against Newcastle in the Carling Cup. The next month, he signed a new long-term contract. It was soon after that Wojciech made his first-team breakthrough thanks to Fabianski’s shoulder injury. Although still a relative novice in the Premier League, Wenger backed him to continue his stay in the first eleven:
“He’s done nothing for me to take him out.”
In Arsenal’s season-defining month this season, Szczesny experienced what it is like to be a Gunner. After a decent performance against Barcelona, when he celebrated like a mad man after Arshavin’s goal, he got caught in a mix up with Koscielny in that Carling Cup final.
Wenger’s faith in Szczesny was shown when he was put straight back in the team after recovering from a dislocated finger which he sustained against Barcelona at the Nou Camp.
Szczesny, like many Arsenal players, didn’t have a great end to the season. Although he made very few major errors, you could point at his lack of aerial presence against Bolton, Stoke and Fulham as factors in our feeble attempt to remain in the top three.
STG 2010/11 Ratings
Szczesny – 8/10
Fabianski – 6.5/10