England / English Premier League

Schoolyard Goalkeeping Sinks Arsenal Again

Anyone wondering to what extent goalkeeping can derail an otherwise very good team need only look at Arsenal.

The Gunners’ goalkeeping situation reached farcical proportions today after young Polish ‘keeper Lukasz Fabianksi gifted Porto a 2-1 advantage in the first leg of their Champions League tie. Fabianski was filling in for the injured Manuel Almunia, who has been having such a rancid season that there were rumors of an attempted deadline-day deal for Stoke’s Thomas Sorensen. At the very least, many fans have been clamoring for Fabianski to get his chance, thinking he could not be much worse. He got his chance today…and bumbled it into his own net.

The first mistake came in just the 11th minute. Silvestre Varela torched Gael Clichy on the right and sent in a sharp low cross which inexplicably caught Fabianski too far forward, bouncing off the keeper and trickling into the net. It was very poor goalkeeping; a mistake that you might see in high school, not the Champions League.

Sol Campbell got the equalizer (and crucial away-goal) from a close range header, but sadly played a role in the second blunder by Fabianski. A goal so flabbergasting you are better off just watching the video. Should it have stood? Arsene Wenger sure doesn’t think so, but Fabianski can only have himself to blame for putting the team in that position.

After that performance it is easy to see how Manuel Almunia has kept his place – there is simply no competition behind him.

Arsenal are far from out of the tie, as they bagged an away-goal to take to the return leg at the Emirates. There were other possible turning points in the game – in particular it appeared Arsenal should have had a penalty when Tomas Rosicky was taken down in the box. But while Arsene Wenger chose fume at the referee, skipper Cesc Fabregas was forthright in his assessment: ”When you concede these goals you cannot go anywhere, schoolboy goals, what can you do?”.

One Comment

  1. Is Mannone hurt or loaned out? He had a good run earlier this year. I think it’s always an amazing round of Champions League football when Dida isn’t the worst goalie out there.

    Also, how about the absurd number of fouls on Fabregas before any cards were issued!

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