Wojciech Szczesny is a goalkeeper that has been earmarked as Arsenal’s number 1 since January 2010. Wenger is quoted as saying “I really believe in him that he will one day be Arsenal’s number one. He has all the qualities you want from a goalkeeper.” Until late Szczesny has failed to live up to these heavy expectations. His tendency to make a silly error has, at times, made him a liability to have in goal. After a blip in the first game of the season Szczesny has put in some exceptional displays. Not only has his shot stopping been excellent but he has also commanded his box extremely well.
In his debut 2010/11 season he made 15 Premier League appearances for the club, conceding 19 in the process at a rate of 1.27 per game. It should also be noted that he kept 6 clean sheets during this period. Drafted in because of injuries to Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski, he retained his place even after the aforementioned keepers returned from their respective injuries. His superb form continued in his Champions League debut when he pulled off several stunning stops against Barcelona. He ended the season making a save every 31.4 mins, a defensive error every 675 minutes and only 13 high cross catches and 9 punches. Despite these positives his distribution was woeful, completing only 48.14% of passes (incl. throws and goal kicks)
Szczesny cemented his place as the first choice goalkeeper and started every game in the 2011/12 season. His shirt number was changed from number 53 to the number 13. This was the season that Szczesny’s tendency to make a defensive errors came to the fore. He made 7 errors I his 38 games, 1 every 489 minutes. Defensive errors are highlighted in goalkeepers as they are the last line of defence. Some would argue that the sharp increase was a result of the infamous mix-up between him and Koscielny. That costly error lead to Arsenal losing the League Cup final. This season also saw Szczesny’s save per minutes rate drop from 31.4 minutes to 40.71 minutes and a slight increase in his goals conceded per game. He also kept 13 clean sheets and conceded 49 goals.
Last season Szczesny only made 25 starts due to an ankle problem he picked up in the early months of the season. It was enough to keep him out from mid-August until early November. In his 25 games he managed to keep 10 clean sheets. The average goals conceded also dropped by a large amount to only 0.96 per game. His minutes per save also dropped down to around the 2010/11 of 31.25. Despite these positives he still commanded his area relatively poorly. He only made 17 high cross catches in his 25 games, around 0.68 a game. His defensive error count was the best it’s ever been at 1 ever 750 minutes but his recklessness was still evident. Something that also peaked last season was his distribution; Szczesny maintained a pass accuracy of 63.34%. He attempted 3 dribbles in the 2012/13 season; although all were successful although this isn’t something you want your goalkeeper to be doing.
Szczesny has started this season brilliantly, conceding only 9 times in his 10 games this season. He has made a save every 26.47 minutes and his already surpassed his total number of high catches from the previous season. He has also completed 7 punches this season. This added to the fact he has only made 1 defensive error all season tells me he is on the cusp of something great. I for one look forward to seeing the continuing development of Szczesny into a top class goalkeeper for Arsenal.
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