Any team with title aspirations needs a reliable goalkeeper. They need someone with a good head on his shoulders and someone who can pull off the crucial saves when the team needs it desperately.


SzczesnyArsenal FCAi??No.1 – Wojciech Szczesny has signed a new four-year deal at the Emirates,Ai??whichAi??has made him one of the highest paid shot-stoppersAi??in the world. The Polish international will reportedly pocket in excess of A?20 million during his tenure at the Emirates after the Boss agreed to double his weekly wages to A?100,000 – putting him on par with some of the club’s top earners.

The 23-year-old Polish Goalkeeper has been prolific between the sticks for Arsenal this season. The uber-talented shot-stopper has always had the physical talent but the mental side of his game was something that has let him down on several occasions. His predilection for lapses in concentration combined with a casual attitude created a habit for costly errors that saw manager Arsene Wenger bench the 23-year-old in the latter stages of last season.

Only a rib injury suffered by his compatriot LukaszAi??Fabianski gave Szczesny the opportunity to regain his first-team place, which he grabbed with both hands and, it is fair to say, he has not looked back since. Szczesny has been particularly good coming off his line, making 37 successful claims in the Premier League whilst failing only twice.

Wenger told the club website after the Champions League tie against Napoli:

He comes off the line much more to claim the ball.

His movement to take the ball at the peak is much better and he has shown that, especially in the last two games against Swansea and Napoli, when it was needed to come off the line and take a cross.

It sometimes has a psychological impact on an opposing team when a goalkeeper comes to claim a cross or is quick off his line.

The manager will be delighted that he resisted the calls to replace the Pole altogether in the summer transfer window with a more experienced goalkeeper. The summer loan acquisition of the Italian ai??i?? Emiliano Viviano has kept Szczesny hot on his heels and has probably given him the much-needed motivation to strive hard to improve.

As far as statistics regarding the number of saves made by him are concerned, Szczesny has been top-notch having made 27 saves in 10 appearances in the Premier League, just three behind his peers. He has conceded fifth-fewest goals in the Premier League when compared to all the keepers that have spent 900 minutes between the sticks.

Despite his tremendous form, Szczesny hasnai??i??t had an overwhelming amount of clean sheets in the Premier League with three. However, given Arsenalai??i??s position on top of the table and the unbeaten run since the opening day of the campaign, it is apparent that he has performed at his very best in crucial situations that has helped the Gunners to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on several occasions. He is preserving precious points that are helping Arsenal launch an early assault on the EPL title. The latest example to further emphasize the above is the nail-biting 2-0 away win over Crystal Palace.

The Gunners were down to 10 men due to a poor decision by the referee and were holding a one-goal lead. Szczesny made some breathtaking saves, especially the one in which he saved a thunderous and a precise volley from midfielder MileAi??Jedinak. He earned the Man-of-the-Match award for his superlative performance and also helped the Gunners bag three crucial points. This contribution was the mark of a goalkeeper ready to join the ranks of the elite.

Szczesny recently commented that he was “obsessed” with keeping clean sheets and Wenger is happy to nurture this obsession if it serves up more favorable results.

He got one and I can understand that because, as a goalkeeper, you always think you are doing your job well when you have a clean sheet,” the manager explained. “It’s the same for defenders as well.”

However, the 23-year-old has been criticized for being an erratic youngster who would never display contrition after a bad day at the office. He seems to grow over confident after a few good outings, which eventually results in his downfall.

However, it does appear that he entered the current campaign with more maturity than before and has worked on the mental side of his game. Looking at his performances, Szczesny is certainly worth the lucrative contract, but it is nothing less than a gamble to lavish such a hefty amount considering the playerai??i??s mercurial nature in the past.

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