I feel this season we have seen unprecedented complaints against our keepers. All three of them have come under scrutiny and have received widespread criticism. As regular readers will have noticed, I have defended our keepers time and again. The point I always made was that anyone who comes under that kind of pressure and who plays in a team with overall defending issues will make mistakes. No matter who we buy, the keeper cannot and will not work magic for Arsenal.
Many of the critics in the media and the blogosphere have this ill conceived notion that buying someone like Shay Given would have solved all our problems. I like Given as a goalkeeper but I don’t see him as our savior.
Over the last couple of weeks Man City have played Stoke thrice. It is worth observing Given’s performances in these games. At this point I will confess that I haven’t seen any of these games live but the highlights do have a story of their own.
The first game was an FA Cup home tie that City should have won comfortably. I’m not saying this based on the match but on the fact that they have spent millions and have Shay Given. After all, those are the great solutions some expert Arsenal fans have put forward. You can see the highlights on this link.
City were on their way to the next round thanks to some sloppy work by Sorenson (another one we should have bought) and Shawcross. But just before the hour mark Given brought Stoke back into the game. Around two and half minutes into the highlights you can see Fuller’s goal from a Delap throw. Given was half way in his six yard box when the throw was taken and inexplicably went backwards to the goal line instead of coming for the ball. Reminds you of Almunia, Fabianksi, Mannone?
The next game between the teams was a league tie at the Brittania. This game also ended in a stalemate and Given cost City two points. On this link you can see the Whelan goal. It reminds me of Fabianski’s error against Porto, only the angle was different.
Finally, in the FA Cup replay, City were dumped out in extra time. Taking the advice of some arsenal fans, City owners have spent millions and even changed managers but it’s not taken them anywhere.
Anyway, on this link you can see the highlights from that game. Around the tenth minute in this video, Delap fires in a throw and Given comes for it this time but flaps at thin air. Shawcross heads it home. Once again reminding us he is no better than Almunia, et al.
Interestingly, just before the throw is taken the commentator says, “…chaos has ensued almost every time he has flung it in.” Not words you expect to hear when in the goal there is a superman goalkeeper who is supposed to solve all our problems, are they?!
While we are on the subject of Given, this is the link for one of the most famous bloopers of all time. Apologies for the quality. Just goes to show that young keepers can make mistakes and it’s stupid to discard them based on those.
If I apply the same yardstick as the critics of our keepers do then in just a couple of weeks, Given has forced his team into an FA cup replay, lost two points in the league and then got the team dumped out of the FA Cup. Food for thought, if thinking is your thing!
I am not trying to say that Given is a bad keeper and our keepers are fantastic. It’s important to have the right perspective when analyzing a football game. Arsene was right when he said goalkeeper was the toughest position. Every mistake is a catastrophe. But the solution is never as simple as buying a new one!