Fabianski gets the nod but the battle to be Arsenal’s No1 goes on

ARSENAL’S goalkeepers are at war over who should be No1 – as Arsene Wenger looks set to keep faith with Lukasz Fabianski in Saturday’s clash with Birmingham.

ARSENAL’S goalkeepers are at war over who should be No1 – as Arsene Wenger looks set to keep faith with Lukasz Fabianski in Saturday’s clash with Birmingham.

Fabianski is expected to retain his place ahead of Manuel Almunia, but both Arsenal’s third and fourth choice keepers are now adamant they should get a chance ahead of the error-prone Pole.

Vito Mannone is the latest Arsenal keeper to speak his mind, and the Italy Under-21 international wants a loan move away from the Emirates if he continues to be ignored by Wenger.

“Last year I played nine games – and with me, Arsenal never lost,” said Mannone, who came into the side this time last year when Almunia was unavailable because of a family bereavement and Fabianski was sidelined by a knee injury. They brought Almunia back and then Fabianski started in the game at Chelsea. I get annoyed when I don’t play, it’s not as if the other two do that well.

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“But if I’ve signed a contract extension until 2014 it is because they must value me. If I don’t get regular playing time at Arsenal, I would consider a six-month loan deal just to play,” added Mannone, who played for Italy’s Under-21s against Belarus this week.

The 22-year-old has plenty of admirers back in his home country, having joined Arsenal from Atalanta as a 17-year-old in 2005.

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His comments mirror those of current fourth-choice keeper Wojciech Szczesny, who let rip at the club last month for not playing him in the Carling Cup game against Tottenham.

“Wenger told me to fight for a first-team place, but then he didn’t include me in the squad for the Carling Cup game,” Szczesny told a Polish newspaper in September.

“My friends told me not to worry, that it’s a marathon not a sprint. But a marathon isn’t about running in the same place for three years.

“I’m ready to play at the highest level but I need a club that believes in a 20-year-old. At Arsenal there is no such bravery. My main goal is to play for Arsenal, but if there’s a move option we will talk about it.”

Wenger has since responded with a call for patience from his young keepers, but that will be sorely tested if Fabianski makes any more mistakes this weekend.

The 25-year-old impressed in the 3-1 win in Partizan Belgrade and the 2-0 defeat at Chelsea earlier this month, but his litany of errors last season have not been forgotten by Gunners fans.

Almunia is still suffering from an elbow injury picked up during the 3-2 defeat to West Bromwich Albion in September, but his errors in that game have given Fabianski a chance. And Wenger said of Fabianski: “He has the talent, he has the potential, he has the desire, a great attitude, so it’s all there. Our job is about grabbing your chance when you have it. You must be ready the day you have your chance.”

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