Monday, March 28, 2011

Manuel Almunia: The Clown

I'll be honest, I used to feel bad for the guy. He got so much stick for all of his mistakes, yet being completely ignored when he actually did shine on the rare occasion. For some time, I understood why Wenger kept giving him chances. After all, at that time, Lukasz "Flappy-hand-ski" Fabianski was the second choice at that time. I understood everything, up until last week's game against West Bromwich Albion. It was his chance to shine after both of Arsenal's in-form Polish keepers, Szczesny and Fabianski, were both injured. And... he screwed up. Majorly.
After a long ball was played, it seemed like Sebastien Squillaci was going to deal with it. But, with his absolutely brilliant thinking, Almunia comes waaaaaay out of his box in an attempt to clear the ball. He didn't even get close, and even pushed Squillaci when he tried to chase the ball. The idiotic mistake cost Arsenal a possibly title deciding two points. And also, some blame was put on Almunia for West Brom's first goal, but I think the second was enough to show just how bad Almunia's judgment really is. How could this man have ever been trusted as the Gunners' number one keeper? It seems like sometimes he actually TRIES to make Arsenal lose, like some sort of double agent for Manchester United.

Granted, he is actually a wonderful shot-stopper. As evidenced by his performance against Barcelona in the 09-10 Champions' League Quarter-final. For the first 20 minutes of the match, he stood his ground and kept out shot after Barca shot to help Arsenal earn a 2-2 draw against the best team in the world. That day was definitely the highest moment of his career. However, being a great shot-blocker doesn't necessarily make you a great keeper. Well, maybe in gym class football. It also takes timing, and knowledge of when to come out or stay in your box. That, sadly, is where Manuel suffers. I'm always worried when Arsenal has to defend a set-piece with Almunia in goal, knowing that there is a great chance of him doing something stupid.

So, with that, I want to make a plea. PLEASE Arsene Wenger, sell the man. Send him back to some place in Spain, where he came from. He could be a useful asset for a relegation-battle team, but not a club that regularly challenges for the title. Keep the two Poles in goal as the first choice keepers. They have both been in amazing form recently, and deserve to stay at a club of Arsenal's stature, unlike Almunia. With the rise of Szczesny and Fabianski, Arsenal's goalkeeping woes have been solved. There's no room for this fool and his screw-ups.

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