A £4m gift horse that Arsenal cannot afford to pass up

Football FanCast guest columnist Steve Brooker feels that Wenger
has to resolve the goalkeeping issues and fast.

They say goalkeepers are
like a fine wine and mature with age and when you get one savour it. We have
fortunately been blessed with some great ones over the years at Arsenal from
Jennings, Lukic, Seaman, right through to Jens Lehmann; it is fair to say that
the chain has stopped, because to say I have my doubts about Manuel Almunia
would be something of an understatement.

I don't want to be too
harsh on the Spaniard because he does possess some half decent attributes as a
keeper, like shot stopping, but for me he just totally lacks any real presence
that consequently leaves the defence in disarray and constant uncertainty,
especially at set pieces. I'm sure that I am not the only supporter who
continually gets anxious every time a set piece is against us or when a cross
gets whipped in – it is certainly a new experience for me and unheard of at Arsenal,
famed for their watertight backline.

Supporters were very
quick to jump on Gallas and Toure's case last season and called upon Wenger to
go out and bring another centre half in, but very few are quick to point the
finger at Almunia, and question whether he is in fact the problem in this
piece. Would there be so much indecision with the pairing if they had the
calming influence of a Seaman or Lehmann behind them? The defence and keeper
should work in unison and confidence in each other is no.1 priority – something
I feel clearly doesn't exist between them.

There is no doubting in
my mind that Wenger has to move for a keeper as a matter of priority in January
because without that stability at the back, we will always look vulnerable and
unstuck. I don't think we should be tempted to move for someone like Joe Hart
or Wayne Hennessey with whom we have been touted with of late and prefer we
move for a keeper with greater experience. The two names that stick out like a
sore thumb is Newcastle's Shay Given and Borussia Dortmund keeper Roman
Weidenfeller, with the latter being the desired choice. Weidenfeller for anyone
who watches the Bundesliga is without question the best goalkeeper in German
football and one who is also readily available in January. Dortmund are
desperate to keep hold but with the player refusing to sign a new deal and see
out his contract which expires in May. The Germans will be desperate to get
some sort of fee, realistically in the region of £4m, in January and I feel that we would be stupid to pass up the
opportunity to make a move when the window opens.

I don't know if Arsenal
fans share my view about Almunia, but I really feel it is a problem that really
addressing and fast, as the constant uncertainty at the back cannot go on.