Arsenal Keeping Conundrum: Is the Arsenal Coaching Staff To Blame?
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Since Arsene Wenger‘s era, Arsenal have always been considered one of the most talented, entertaining, and threatening teams in World Football. Predominantly they have boasted lethal strikers, ferocious defenders, and world class midfielders. But one thing (especially in recent years) Wenger and Arsenal have failed to present is a quality keeper.
Jens Lehmann’s wayward finish to his Arsenal career in 2008 saw long time deputy keeper Manuel Almunia receive a promotion to first choice keeper. Rather than opt to secure a new keeper, Wenger chose to blood the Spaniard who had performed credibly during Cup football. The Frenchman also signed Polish keeper Lukasz Fabianski as the new deputy.
The pair have since been dismal as the two Arsenal first and second. Both have a tendency to make vital errors which ultimately cost Arsenal dearly especially late into the season. As well as being nervy, the keeping duo struggle tremendously when defending corners, often charging for balls well out of their reach or failing to deal with balls in their reach.
After the Gunners ended last season without silverware for the fifth time running—largely due to the poor presence of both keepers—Wenger vowed to implement changes into his youthful squad beginning with the goalkeeper role.
However, a slow summer has seen host of rumours, but little materialization, which has ensured Almunia remained at the front of the helm for the opening game of the new season. Arsenal encountered Liverpool on Sunday and played out a some what scrappy 1-1 draw.
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Despite making some strong saves, the 33 year old continued his form of failing to deal with opposition corners and was lucky not to be punished. This trend has frustrated fans and critics alike and it sparked the question—why hasn’t anyone at Arsenal done something about this problem?
As a coach, ones job is to guide and mentor their players. Directing them towards potential glory and also ensuring sufficient improvement is made in their game. This has not been the case with the Arsenal keeping duo.
The Arsenal goalkeeping coach is the highly regarded Gerry Peyton, who played over 600 games as a player as well as representing Ireland. The Irishman has been at the Emirates since 2003 and is well respected by Wenger.
But surely Peyton needs to accept some criticism?
Time and time again, we see Almunia and Fabianski flap about off corners fail to conquer the oncoming ball. Why has Peyton, or even Wenger allowed this to happen so often?
Each time a goalkeeping error is made, fingers are rarely pointed and the problem gets somewhat swept under the rug. But now the problem must not continue if Arsenal are to break their trophy drought and reinstate their dominance on the footballing world.
Is a new goalkeeping coach needed along with the arrival of a new keeper?
Something needs to occur soon before Arsenal slip down the food chain of English and European football and become nothing more than hopeful participants.