It is not often that I find myself agreeing with Champagne Charlie however his view that a top class keeper has to be Arsene Wenger’s No.1 priority in the transfer market is one I share wholeheartedly and one I know many other fans share too. A decent goalkeeper can add anything up to 10pts to your tally every given season; unfortunately we don’t posses one of them at the Emirates.
I have tried my level best to support Almunia over the years, but the truth is that he has never replaced Jens Lehmann. The Spaniard is what I would call a decent understudy, but as a starter week in week out he doesn’t inspire much confidence and I really believe the reason we concede as many as we do is not because Gallas and Vermaelen are poor defenders, or that they aren’t give adequate cover from midfield, but it is simply the lack of confidence they have in their keeper behind them, especially when it comes to set pieces. Lee Dixon once said that while the back four at Arsenal was always lauded, their jobs were made ten times easier as they knew that David Seaman will always be there to bail them out.
Wenger as we know shows a tremendous amount of loyalty towards his players and does persevere and while it has paid off with the likes of Song, we are not getting the same rewards with Almunia. It is becoming something of a blind spot with Wenger and I don’t know how he fails to see the weakness that he brings to the team. Unfortunately the likes of Fabianski hardly offer a better alternative; therefore a move for a top class keeper has to be a real priority, doesn’t it?
It is widely considered that there is a real dearth of decent keepers available in Europe, a view that perhaps holds some substance but there are certainly options. Akinfeev and Neuer are both available and have been subject to speculation about a move to Old Trafford and while Akinfeev in particular, out of the two, has the greater potential, I would question whether Wenger will ever pay the £20m that Spartak Moscow is reportedly after. Lloris is another option and currently the best keeper in France and in my view the ideal choice, given that not only is he one of the best around, but his familiarity of playing behind the likes of Sagna, Clichy and Gallas is also an added bonus. The transition will therefore be a relatively smooth one and won’t cause any real unrest.
There have been rumours in the past that Arsenal will have first dibs on the player when Lyon decide to sell and while that is perhaps just paper talk, I still believe that Wenger should look to test the water with a bid. As you can see from the footage he is certainly a tidy keeper and more significantly bosses that penalty area, something that will be extremely welcome at the Emirates. Others may feel I am harsh in singling out Almunia for our defensive woes and see the need to have him replaced, but I really believe that if we are to be successful over a sustained period, which I believe we are currently on the brink of, then we need a top class keeper between the sticks. Lloris is my personal choice and I believe that Wenger should do all he can to bring him to the Emirates.
Written By Jay Lynch