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Lukasz Fabianski: Living Life After Arsenal

Anytime I think about Lukasz Fabianski, my mind goes to his FA Cup penalty-saving heroics against Wigan in the FA Cup semifinal. The Gunners had gone nine pain-staking years without a trophy and we would have gone into meltdown if Wigan, a team in the lower division had won that game. With Wojciech Szczesny a regular in the Premier League and Champions League, Fabianski was offered a run-out in the domestic cup competitions and he made the best out of the situation.

The Polish goalie wasn’t satisfied with playing second fiddle to his younger Polish compatriot and at 29, he needed to be featuring consistent to get a chance to be the No. 1 goalie for his nation. When Swansea came calling, Fabianski grabbed the opportunity with both hands, stating that he left Arsenal because he wanted to be No. 1 at Swansea.

Fabianski’s cause was helped when Swansea’s first-choice goalie, Michel Vorm, was sold to Tottenham, making him the undisputed number one at the Welsh club. He was an ever-present in Swansea’s squad last season, making 137 saves in the Premier League and keeping 13 clean sheets. On the 11th of May, Fabianski arrived at the Emirates but he was on the other side. That night, he unleashed his inner Manuel Neuer and put up a Man of the Match performance, making 10 saves as Swansea left the Battle of the Emirates with all three points.

Fabianski had a couple of words to say after the game,

“I spent seven years here and I have loads of friends here so to play against them was a strange experience, and sometimes it even felt like a training game. It was tricky. You never know how you are going to feel until you experience something. It was strange arriving at the ground and seeing all the people, but there was a game to play and I had to be focused.”

“I am past that frustration (at Arsenal). It has been a long time since I left Arsenal so I am just enjoying my position at the moment at Swansea. I am very happy with my decision to come here and I am really proud of the team’s performance.”

Swansea finished in eighth place and Fabianski played a vital role in the club’s high position in the league. His performances earned him a new contract with the club, extending his stay till June 2019.

At the start of the new campaign, Swansea made a couple of signings with Andre Ayew, Eder and Franck Tabanou being the highest-profile players the club purchased in the transfer window.

However, the Swans couldn’t replicate the form of last season and after quite an impressive start with two wins and two draws from their first four Premier League games, the club slumped with eight defeat in the next 12 games which led to the departure of Garry Monk. In the cup competitions, Swansea struggled badly, losing to lowly Oxford United in the FA Cup and Hull City in the League Cup. Since Francesco Guidolin took over, Fabianski retained his place in goal but their form isn’t really improved as they are currently in 16th place.

Tomorrow, Fabianski will visit the Emirates again as the Gunners host the Welsh club in their bid to inject some steam to their fading title challenge. The Pole has featured consistently for the club, keeping six clean sheets and conceding 36 goals in 27 games. In this period, Fab has made 82 saves, including 12 in the game against Tottenham last weekend.

I would be hoping that he won’t be at his best tomorrow but it’s fair to say that Lukasz Fabianski is…

Living the life after Arsenal.

Sayonara.

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Lukasz Fabianski: The Highs and Lows of his Arsenal Career

Fabianski signs for Swansea

Like all things in reality, Lukasz Fabianski’s time at Arsenal has come to an end. After making 78 appearances, conceding 81 goals and notching up 25 clean sheets in seven seasons, his status as second fiddle to Manuel Almunia and afterwards his compatriot, Wojciech Szczesny, has made him jump ship to Swansea City with the hope of playing regular football being his priority.

It was glaring that he was leaving on borrowed time and when the club tabled a contract extension for him, I was very sure that he wasn’t going to sign the new deal. With the Pole’s time at Arsenal coming to an end, Gooner Daily has decided to relive those moments that made him stand out.. for the good reasons and the bad.

THE LOWS

Fabianski’s career at Arsenal had many low points and this convinced a lot of fans that he wasn’t cut out to make the No. 1 spot his. In no specific order, here are the games Fabianski was truly a “Flappy Handski”.

Blackburn 2 Arsenal 1 (May 2010)

Arsenal scored early on through a RVP near post strike from Bacary Sagna’s flick but Fabianski was directly involved in both goals conceded. For the first, he came for a corner and missed leaving David Dunn for a simple tap-in once Keith Andrews had returned the ball back across the six yard line. He conceded the second goal from another corner when his goalkeeping misjudgment allowed Chris Samba to head the ball in at point-blank range.

Wigan 3 Arsenal 2 (April 2010)

This is one game many Arsenal fans wouldn’t want to remember. Despite going two goals up, the Gunners somehow connived to throw the game away, but like the rest of the team, Fabianski played his own part in the 89th minute when he unfathomably spilled a routine catch from a corner on Titus Bramble’s head and the ball went in.

Fab before spilling the ball

Arsenal 0 Newcastle 1 (November 2010)

Shortly before Andy Carroll grabbed all the headlines for being the British record transfer signing, he scored the only goal at the Emirates in a game marred by Laurent Koscielny’s red card. Fabianski allowed the big striker to leap higher than him to nod the ball home.

The Epic Howlers against FC Porto (February 2010)

The World’s Best Released Striker, Nicklas Bendtner, would be famously remembered for netting a hat-trick in the 5-0 drubbing of FC Porto at the Emirates but the proceedings in the first leg at Portugal left the fans bewildered and perplexed. Fabianski inexplicably parried a simple cross into his net when he was under no pressure whatsoever. If that was bad enough, the second goal made everyone stunned. He grabbed the ball from Sol Campbell and gave it to Radamel Falcao that wasted no time in side-footing the ball home.

Chelsea 2 Arsenal 1 (April 2009)

Chelsea under Guus Hiddink went on to win the FA Cup final against David Moyes’ Everton but in the semis at Wembley, Arsenal were the opposition that stood in their way. Theo Walcott had given the Gunners the lead before Florent Malouda equalized for the Blues. Late on, Didier Drogba was sent clean on goal and with Mikael Silvestre not having the pace to catch up with the Ivorian, Fabianski raced off his line and out of his box like a headless bull pretending to be a sweeper and was shimmed by the big man before he fired the ball to an unguarded net.

THE HIGHS

Lukasz Fabianski was an able deputy for the Gunners and he performed admirably in some games. Here’s Gooner Daily’s top five.

Partizan Belgrade 1 Arsenal 3 (September 2010)

With Almunia messing up against West Brom, Wenger handed the goalkeeping baton to Fabianski and he didn’t disappoint. One of his finest moments that campaign was his superb save from Cleo’s penalty which would have brought Partizan back into the game. The scream he let out was probably heard in the Moon.

Everton 1 Arsenal 2 (November 2010)

Arsenal got a rare opener from Bacary Sagna before Cesc Fabregas scored what proved to be the match winner but the undisputed Man of the Match was Fabianski, that made a lot of saves to put Everton at bay.

Wolves 0 Arsenal 2 (November 2010)

Undoubtedly Fabianski’s best outing in his Arsenal career. Marouane Chamakh socred at the first and last minute to hand Arsenal all three points but Fabianski was the hero of the night especially when he managed to prevent a draw with a last-minute save, and then initiating a counter-attack with a long throw of the ball that led to Chamakh’s match clincher.

Manchester City 0 Arsenal 3 (October 2010)

Arsenal got a rare victory over Manchester City with goals from Samir Nasri, Alex Song and Nicklas Bendtner but Fabianski was very dominant and made some top drawer saves.

Wigan 1 Arsenal 1 (April 2014)

With Fabianski’s status at the domestic Cup keeper confirmed, he played all the games in the Gunners run to the final but he was the deciding factor was the game was sent to the lottery of a penalty shootout.

Good luck to Fabianski, thanks for the contribution to our FA Cup win this season and I’m genuinely happy for him that his career is back on track properly, even if it is elsewhere. But whatever happens, I’m comfortable with Szczesny as our number 1 for next season. – Arseblog

Sayonara.

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Rating Arsenal’s Goalkeepers in the 2013/14 Season

Szczesny had a great campaign by his standards

Many Arsenal fans can say that defending improved considerably in the 2013/14 season and while the defensive pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny did their bit in the heart of the defense, the Gunners last line of defense, the custodians between the sticks, played in vital role in helping their team’s cause this season.

Over the course of the 2013/14 season, Arsene Wenger clearly favored Wojciech Szczesny for his Premier League and Champions League games while Lukasz Fabianski was the man for the domestic Cup competitions. Like last season, Gooner Daily has decided to launch four articles that would be focused on Arsenal’s performances in the 2013/14 campaign but today’s post is entirely focused on Arsenal’s goalkeepers.

Feel free to share your comments.

Wojciech Szczesny – 46 Apps, 21 Clean Sheets

After keeping 13 clean sheets from 33 appearances in the 2012/13 season, everybody expected great things from Szczesny but his season started on a shaky note in Arsenal’s opening day 3-1 reverse to Aston Villa. He conceded a penalty after a blatant foul on Gabby Agbonlahor and a bad day almost went worse when he was found in No Man’s Land but Westwood failed to capitalize on his error. However, he responded to that gaffe by keeping three clean sheets in his next four games.

9644365175 3131799ddb o GIF: Wojciech Szczesny makes a brilliant save to deny a deflected Jermain Defoe effort

After conceding a couple of goals in October, Szczesny went on to have a great November as he conceded just one goal in six matches. There was a moment of concern for the goalie at Old Trafford when he clashed heads with Phil Jones but the manager allowed him to complete the game. In the previous week, Andre Villas-Boas came under heavy criticism for allowing Hugo Lloris finish the game when he was clearly concussed.

The club rewarded his fine form with a long-term contract and there was even time for the goalie to keep his 50th clean sheet in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Olympique Marseille. Szczesny’s floodgates opened at the Etihad Stadium as he shipped in six goals but he responded admirably with four clean sheets in his next six games.

The goalie ended 2013 with a clean sheet and began 2014 with two clean sheets but when he and his teammates arrived at Anfield, they were in for a massive drubbing in the hands of Liverpool. Szczesny reached his nadir when he was sent off against Bayern Munich in the First Knockout Round fixture but things went really sour for the goalie when Chelsea shipped in six goals past him.

At the tail end of the campaign, Szczesny kept four more clean sheets in the Premier League that tied him with Petr Cech and many thought that with the Czech goalie out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, the Pole would usurp him for the Golden Gloves. On the final matchday of the season, I’m pretty sure that Szczesny was surprised to see himself on the bench as Fabianski kept the clean sheet that was probably meant for him.

Notwithstanding, sealing 21 clean sheets in 46 games was an outstanding achievement by Arsenal’s young goalie. I still believe that his best years are ahead of him.

Rating – 7/10

Lukasz Fabianski – 11 Apps, Three Clean Sheets

With each splendid Szczesny performance, I’m pretty sure that Fabianski would have let in fits of frustration because he would have liked to be out there making the saves that would make the fans sing his songs aloud. Wenger afforded him that opportunity in the Cup competitions and it was something he grabbed with both hands.

With Arsneal knocked out early from the Capital One Cup, Fabianski had to wait till the turn of the New Year to feature in the FA Cup third round against Tottenham where he kept his first clean sheet of the season. Another clean sheet was yielded in the FA Cup fourth round against Coventry but Fabianski went into Arsenal folklore this season after his penalty-saving heroics against Wigan.

Wenger had stated that he was going to play Fabianski in the FA Cup final despite the fact that his footballing future was elsewhere. In the manager’s bid to get the goalie fully fit for the season, he gave him a surprise starting place ahead of Szczesny in the final game of the season, which saw Fabianski keep a clean sheet in the only league match he played.

Fabianski was blameless in the goals he conceded at Wembley but late on he inexplicably chose to charge down at Sone Aluko and the Nigerian left him for dead but Kieran Gibbs was on hand to clear the ball off the line.

Even though, Fabianski is set to leave the Emirates, at least, he’d have the mindset that he left the club as an FA Cup champion and he can congratulate himself for the role he played on the Gunners road to glory.

Rating – 7/10

Emiliano Viviano – No App, No Clean Sheet

In this life, I’ve seen Wenger make some awesome signings as well as the puzzling Park Chu Young-Mikael Silvestre-Amaury Bischoff-esque signings but one must wonder how Viviano flew all the way from Italy to waste an entire year doing nothing but basking the London sunshine.

Video Poster

Spent time taking photos rather than playing

In Wenger’s defense, he probably thought about the 2010/11 campaign when Fabianski suffered a season-ending shoulder injury and Szczesny ruptured his finger tendon but with Manuel Almunia putting up more erratic performances, Arsenal had to coax Mad Jens Lehmann from retirement to play against Blackpool.

Viviano was certainly a contingency plan in the wake of an injury crisis, but unfortunately, he was never given the chance to prove himself to the Emirates faithful.

Rating – N/A

So there you have it, the first of four posts focused on different playing positions in the team. My take on the defense comes up next.

The voting sequence for the 2013/14 End of Season awards is still ongoing, so feel free to make your votes count in the polls.

Sayonara.

You can download the Gooner Daily  BlackBerry App to receive notifications on your Smart Phone when a post is published.

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