Wojciech Szczęsny has been heavily criticised over the season with his goalkeeping ability coming in to question once again in the FA Cup semi-final game at Wembley against Championship side, Reading.
Reading pushed the Gunners into Extra-Time with a late equaliser from Garath McCleary but Arsenal’s overall performance was not a promising one. Throughout the match the north London side looked tired and laboured and not at all like recent weeks which has seen them push into 2nd in the Premier League table. It was only due to a sad mistake from Reading goalkeeper, Adam Federici that Arsenal booked a place in May’s final at Wembley.
Szczesny was a given a rating of 6.5 out of 10 for his performance on Saturday and some key errors by the Gunners No.1 nearly cost his team a place in the final. Wenger should seriously think twice before he picks the Polish keeper for the final. Aston Villa have showed they are more than capable of rising to the challenge and you cannot get away with that many mistakes two games in a row.
The Gunner’s gaffer has made it an Arsenal tradition to pick the team’s reserve goalkeeper to play in all the FA Cup games- no matter how far they get. In the second half of this season number 13 David Ospina has been picked in goal after Szczesny’s lack of consistency which means the number one’s demotion put him in between the sticks against Reading. Fans are worried this will mean he is put in net for the final and after a nervy performance many are urging their manager to think twice.
In the 12 games Ospina has been in net in the Premier League he has already proved himself with a pass success rate of 70.4% compared to his fellow Pole who has only got a rating of 61.2% and as they get ready to face Aston Villa, fans want their best team out on the day.
There is a long time to go before the final is played and the gaffer needs to watch every performance Szczesny may make as well as how he performs in training before he automatically choses him because of a tradition. To blame Szczesny for Arsenal’s equaliser may seem slightly unfair. While there was a mistake in his position in the build-up and a fumble as the goal came towards him McCleary’s shot had clipped Arsenal defender, Kieran Gibbs on the way to goal and by the time Szczesny adjusted it was too late.
Whilst the goal was not entirely his fault Szczesny cannot do anything right – fans are already saying that Ospina would not have made that mistake. Immediately after the game, Wenger did not want to publicly criticise his player saying, “I have to watch it again” which is admirable but it only seemed to annoy fans further and it is clear had they lost he would have been the ones fans pointed to as the reason.
Arsene has a while before he has to make up his mind but it seems unlikely he will change his tradition now. He has to keep his options open though, Szczesny’s form will have knocked his confidence and you don’t want to miss out on a trophy just because of principal.