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Arsenal legend slams re-signing of goalkeeper Jens Lehmann

PUBLISHED: 10:01 24 March 2011

Nigel Winterburn

Nigel Winterburn

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Read Gunners legend Nigel Winterburn’s thoughts on Arsenal here every week

THERE has been a lot of focus on Arsenal’s defending over the past few weeks but, for me, you can only look at one person to blame for the goals conceded at The Hawthorns last weekend – Manuel Almunia.

You just can’t legislate for what he did on that second goal. Not only did he come rushing out when he didn’t need to, but he then got nowhere near the ball. It was hard to understand.

It is not the first time he has made mistakes like that, and while you can excuse it in a young player, Almunia has been around long enough now. He can’t make those excuses any more.

As a defender, you need to know what your goalkeeper is going to do. There has to be that understanding there between the back four and the man in goal. Otherwise there will be mistakes from both, as we sa last week.

Of course, Almunia is not the man Arsene Wenger wants to have in goal at the moment, because he has already dropped him this season. But now he has no choice – except if you count Jens Lehmann, but I just don’t believe that Arsene will consider bringing back Lehmann unless he absolutely has to because of injury.

This is a man who has not played at all for 10 months. I don’t care how fit you are or how much you have looked after yourself, if you haven’t played for that long you cannot possibly just turn up and start playing in the Premier League again. I would be amazed if Lehmann is preferred to Almunia and am sure that he won’t be.

It’s not his age, goalkeepers have shown before that they can play on for much longer than that, but it’s the time out of the game that he won’t be able to recover quickly.

The dropped points on Saturday could prove costly, but I am confident Arsenal will win their next game after the international break, at home to Blackburn Rovers.

They then face Blackpool and have to win that one too – it really does have to be six points from those two games if Arsenal are going to have a chance of being champions.

Because after that, the games get much harder. Liverpool, Spurs and Bolton away, and then Manchester United at home. If Arsenal are still close to United going into that game then of course they have a chance of beating them and going on to take the title.

But there is an awful lot of improving to do over the next 10 days. The comeback on Saturday was a good sign, but this side seem to have to be in a hole before they start playing and dig themselves out of it.

Arsenal have used up another life on Saturday, and they don’t have too many more left.


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