Exclusive: Arsenal legend says Szczesny has always been top keeper
PUBLISHED: 12:13 12 December 2013 | UPDATED: 12:13 12 December 2013
Arsenal legend Bob Wilson is delighted Wojciech Szczesny is finally getting the recognition he deserves – but claims the goalkeeper has been in great form for the last TWO years.
The Poland international goes into Saturday’s game at title favourites Manchester City having kept five clean sheets – conceding just twice – in the Gunners’ last seven league games.
He has now firmly established himself as first choice keeper for Arsene Wenger’s revitalised table-toppers, despite criticism from some quarters in the past over his rash decision-making.
Wilson, a Double-winning ‘keeper with the Gunners in 1971, claims the criticism has been wrong – and now Szczesny is reaping the benefits of Wenger’s faith.
“Wojciech is one of the very best around – he is a fantastic goalkeeper and deserves the No1 jersey,” says Wilson.
“Now some say he is finally playing consistently this season.
“But that is absolute rubbish; as far as I am concerned he has been playing this well for the past two years.
“I have always believed in his qualities and now maybe others are finally seeing what a fine ‘keeper we have at Arsenal.”
Wilson is adamant the new lighter Premier League footballs are to blame for any perceived errors by the Poland star, who lost his place for a while last season to compatriot Lukasz Fabianski.
“All goalkeepers make mistakes – Petr Cech makes massive mistakes and he is apparently the most consistent in the Premier League,” adds Wilson, who played more than 300 games for Arsenal and later coached a succession of goalkeepers at the club before retiring in 2003.
“Bruce Grobbelaar made loads but also won more trophies than any other keeper. As for Wojciech, he has made no more than he has done before.
“Goalkeepers will make mistakes in the Premier League because of the balls they play with – they are paper thin, very light and very unpredictable. Frankly they are horrific, an absolute joke.
“Top goalkeepers these days have to make very quick decisions because anyone who can hit a ball hard can have some joy with these balls as they move left and right and back very quickly.
“In my day you could judge a ball’s flight – even if someone with a very hard shot like Bobby Charlton hit one, I would still feel confident enough to try and catch it.
“But with balls like the ones they use these days, no chance. They fly all over the place – 99 per cent of the time goalkeepers now will just try and get two fists on the ball and get it away and I’d do the same.
“These days you must trust your instincts more than ever – and let’s give Wojciech credit; he will at least make a decision and stick with it.
“I’d rather that than he was undecided. Decision-making is key.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s big game at the Etihad Stadium, Wilson is relishing what could be a fantastic battle between two sides in great form.
“I was up there for the first game of the season to lay a wreath for my hero, Bert Trautmann, and was sat with Franny Lee,” he says.
“I told him whoever finishes above City could well be champions because they are devastating going forward. I’m very impressed with them. That said, we can score goals too.
“In fact, I expect a few on Saturday and while some may think it will be too tough for Arsenal, we have won in Munich and Dortmund this year and if we can do that we are capable of beating anyone, anywhere …”
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