Top 10 Saves of the 2011/12 Season
Arsenal shipped in a total of 67 goals from August 13, 2011 to May 13, 2012, with most of the goals conceded from schoolboy errors, defensive lapses, long-range volleys, headers and of course, own goals too.
As expected, the Premier League was the competition where Arsenal conceded the highest amount of goals all season long, and the 49 goals conceded was instrumental to the large amount of defeats the Gunners suffered in the concluded campaign which stood at 10. However, the Gunners still managed to be the third best team in the land, as this campaign could be labelled as one where inconsistency became a watchword.
It’s also noteworthy that Tottenham had a better defense by virtue of goals conceded (41) but they didn’t just score enough, which was able to allow the Gunners celebrate St. Totteringham’s day yet again. When I reiterated that if Arsenal ever ends up in 17th place, Tottenham will be relegated, I wasn’t bluffing.
Their Champions League adventure also ended before it started and it was more or less a nice way to begin next season with, from an Arsenal perspective.
Eventual league winners, Manchester City, boasted of the best defense with 29 goals conceded, with their superb goalie and Golden Glove winner, Joe Hart, keeping 16 clean sheets in the process. Relegated Wolverhampton Wanderers had the league most porous defense, amassing a goal haul of 82 goals, which was more than good enough to secure their second-tier status.
Arsenal bowed out of the Carling Cup in the quarterfinal stage and they also managed to play all their fixtures at the Emirates. The first Carling Cup goal conceded was in the hands of some bloke from Shrewsbury Town, in a game where debut goals for the Gunners was the order of the day. Fabrice Muamba scored against his previous employers in the Fourth Round but the final blow was handed to the Gunners by Sergio Aguero late on.
Lukasz Fabianski was the custodian in the sticks for all League Cup fixtures and he had no clean sheets to show for it. Wojciech Szczesny on the other hand, was the Carling Cup goalie of the 2010/11 campaign and he managed clean sheets against Newcastle, Wigan and Ipswich.
However, his communication error with Laurent Koscielny in the final game probably gave him a few sleepless nights or two.
Arsenal kicked off the FA Cup with a fairytale goal from Thierry Henry but a clean sheet was also secured in the process.When Fabianski replaced Szczesny in the Fourth Round tie against Aston Villa, he conceded two first half goals from Richard Dunne and Darren Bent before the Gunners turned on the style in the second half.
Fabianski’s last game for Arsenal in the concluded campaign arrived in the Fifth Round fixture against Sunderland where he was left rooted to the spot from a Kieran Richardson volley before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sealed his team’s fate with an unfortunate own goal.
Arsenal managed only three clean sheets in the eight Champions League games they played this concluded season. A stunning volley from Dortmund’s Ivan Perisic opened the flood gates. This was followed closely by a win against Olympiakos but a goal by David Fuster almost spoilt the party.
Two subsequent clean sheets against Olympique Marseille was followed up by a 2-1 win over Dortmund in a game where the Gunners sealed top spot, but Shinji Kagawa still managed to get a goal for the visitors. Rafik Djebbour, David Fuster and Francois Modesto scored the goals that propelled Olympiakos to the Europa League in a 3-1 win over a makeshift Arsenal side.
The Gunners were outplayed, outclassed and literally out of the Champions League win a Kevin-Prince Boateng stunner, a Robinho brace and a Zlatan Ibracadabra penalty drove in the nails to Arsenal’s Champions League coffin. A valiant second leg performance wasn’t still enough to send the Gunners through.
Despite all these shortcomings, Wojciech Szczesny stood out from the crowd to make consistent performances, as well as some truly magnificent saves that can never be forgotten by the Arsenal faithful.
Here’s my take on the top 10 saves made by Szczesny and his peers in the 2011/12 campaign.
Courtesy of YouTube’s graciousness, you don’t just to read about the save, you get to see it…not all though.
10. Wojciech Szczesny against Manchester City (17th December, 2011)
Arsenal’s defending at the Etihad was very resolute but a scary moment arrived when a cross into the box wasn’t dealt by Per Mertesacker and Johan Djourou only for Mario Balotelli to steal it from them superbly but Szczesny was on hand to make a great save.
9. Wojciech Szczesny against Fulham (26th November, 2011)
Thomas Vermaelen stole the headlines for his goals at both ends of the pitch but the save Szczesny pulled up from Moussa Dembele was simply astonishing. The Belgian forward was left with a clear-cut goalscoring opportunity but the big Pole was equal to the challenge.
8. Wojciech Szczesny against Chelsea (29th October, 2011)
In the most enthralling derbies I’ve ever witnessed as an Arsenal fan, both defences were in shambles as Robin van Persie stole the show with a scintillating hat-trick. However, a nervy moment arrived when Frank Lampard teed himself up for one of his trademark free kicks. Up stepped Szczesny to make another top-drawer save.
7. Wojciech Szczesny against Liverpool (20th August, 2011)
It was encounter that signalled the end of Liverpool’s barren run at Arsenal’s home ground but a moment of great quality arrived when Szczesny braced himself up to make a great save from an Andy Carroll goal-bound header.
6. Wojciech Szczesny against Liverpool (3rd March, 2012)
Luis Suarez deceived the ref to win a fictitious penalty but Szczesny was on hand to save Dirk Kuyt’s penalty. Kuyt went for the follow-up but Szczesny covered some distance to parry the ball to safety.
5. Wojciech Szczesny against Udinese (24th August, 2011)
Minutes after Arsenal had gone ahead on aggregate, Udinese were gifted a penalty. Antonio di Natale had a chance to score from 12-yards but Szczesny pulled off a save of the highest quality.
4. Wojciech Szczesny against Udinese (16th August, 2011)
Antonio di Natale was a constant thorn at Arsenal’s flesh in the two-legged affair. Despite his advanced years, he bellied his age with two great performances against the Gunners. There was a moment where di Natale fired in an awesome free kick that was destined for the net. Szczesny developed top-notch reflexes to make a great save.
3. Wojciech Szczesny against Bolton (24th September, 2011)
Early on it the game, Bolton’s Pratley flicked the ball goalwards and the odds of the ball hitting the back of the net were as sure as Gareth Bale going into the zoo to receive recognition from his fellow apes. Up stepped Szczesny to make a top-drawer save.
2. Wojciech Szczesny against Sunderland (16th October, 2011)
Carl Jenkinson allowed Stephane Sessegnon to send a cross to the Szczesny’s far post with Lee Cattermole set for the kill. Sunderland’s captain headed the ball towards goal but Arsenal’s goalie developed the reflexes of a cat to make an unbelievable save.
1. Wojciech Szczesny against Wolves (9th April, 2012)
Wolves enjoyed a brief spell of possession and some intricate passing in Arsenal’s danger area saw Matt Jarvis swing a cross that was headed goalwards by Kevin Doyle. Up stepped Wojciech Szczesny to add another spectacular save to his impressive collection.
In my opinion, it’s my stand-out save of the season.
I’ve just shared my top 10 saves of the 2011/12 season.
They might not be the same with yours, so feel free to share your own pick of those saves that stood out for you.
I’ll end today’s post with Szczesny’s antics on Arsene Wenger’s car.
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