Tuesday 28 March 2017

Fabianski tells Wenger he's ready to be Gunners No 1 for Blues test

Jeremy Wilson

Arsene Wenger remains undecided over which goalkeeper will play against Chelsea on Sunday, despite Lukasz Fabianski's declaration yesterday that he was ready to face the Premier League champions.

Fabianski went some way to repairing his error-prone reputation with a mature performance in the Champions League on Tuesday night against Partizan Belgrade that was capped with a fantastic penalty save.

Wenger, though, has admitted that Fabianski only played because of an elbow injury to Manuel Almunia and he will await further news on the Spaniard's fitness before deciding whether he will now be replaced as his first-choice goalkeeper.

Arsenal's recent record against both Manchester United and Chelsea is dreadful -- they have failed to win any of the most recent nine games -- but Fabianski believes victory on Sunday would prove that they can genuinely contend to win the Premier League.

"Yes -- we are playing really well," said Fabianski. "The beginning of the season was good. I am ready. I was always ready. I am overall pleased with my performance against Partizan. Not only my saves but I read the game with the crosses and kicked well."

nickname

Fabianski's performance in 2-1 and 4-1 defeats against Chelsea at the end of the 2008/9 season contributed to the unfortunate 'Flappy Handski' nickname, but he claims that past criticism has never undermined his confidence.

The statistics, however, show that he has the worst record of any Arsenal goalkeeper since the start of the 2008/9 season. In that time, Fabianski has conceded an average of a goal every 58 minutes compared to a ratio of 94 minutes for Almunia and 90 minutes for Vito Mannone. "I was never bothered by all the things," said Fabianski. "I was always trying to focus on my job, my work. That is what I was doing."

Kieran Gibbs had particular reason to be thankful to Fabianski after conceding the penalty he saved against Partizan. "He is a great 'keeper or else he wouldn't be here at Arsenal," said Gibbs. "Saving the penalty was just as important as scoring a goal for us. I think he felt like he had a point to prove. He has shown great character.

"We do feel for him (after the criticism he has had) because we know his quality. He is good in the air, he is a great speaker and he doesn't hide away."

Captain Cesc Fabregas has now returned to training and says that he is working "day and night" in his effort to be fit for Sunday's Stamford Bridge showdown. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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