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wenger's confident Fabianski will RISE as 'great'

Arsenal manager backs Pole to kick on from starring role in win over Partizan

Arsene Wenger has challenged stand-in goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski to make the most of his next chance as Arsenal number one after helping the Gunners beat 10-man Partizan Belgrade 3-1 in Serbia -- an opportunity which could well come at Chelsea on Sunday.

The often-criticised Pole impressed as he stood in for injured Manuel Almunia for last night's Champions League Group H clash, saving a late penalty and then capping a confident display with another acrobatic stop from Ivica Iliev in stoppage time.

Wenger has long championed Fabianski's cause, despite a number of blunders, and felt last night's display proved his faith justified.

"Fabianski had a good game, we have seen the player who we see in training. He had a faultless game," said the Arsenal boss.

"I know it is in him. He got it out in the game and hopefully that will give him the needed belief and confidence."

The Gunners boss added: "I am confident he will come out as a great keeper, I have always said that.

"We have to keep confidence in him and now he needs to gain experience from games like this."

Fabianski could be in line to play against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, should Almunia -- himself under the spotlight following some errors in the 3-2 home defeat by West Brom -- not recover from an elbow problem.

Wenger said: "At the moment Almunia is injured, we will have to see how his injury goes, but at the moment it is too early to say."

After surviving a power failure which forced the team to change in the dark and an intense atmosphere during the opening exchanges, the Gunners, who had six changes to their side, went ahead on 15 minutes through Andrey Arshavin.


However, after wasting several more chances, the visitors were made to pay when Brazil-born striker Cleo levelled from the penalty spot after a handball by Denilson.

Partizan then had Marko Jovanovic sent off for hauling down Marouane Chamakh on 55 minutes, but Arshavin missed his penalty. However, Moroccan striker Chamakh and Sebastien Squillaci gave Arsenal a two-goal cushion heading into the closing minutes.

It could, though, have been a tense finish but for the intervention of Fabianski with his two impressive late saves.

Wenger felt his side, missing key men like captain Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, Robin van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen, coped well with the early onslaught.

"Partizan gave us the game we expected -- full of commitment, full of power on every break," the Arsenal manager said.

"We had a lot of the ball and created a lot of chances.

"However, we could not kill the game off and then we were always under threat."

There was a chance the match would not have gone ahead if the floodlights had failed.

Wenger said: "I thought it would be terrible to go home and not play.

"I encouraged UEFA when they asked me 'do you want to play even if one corner is off?,' I said 'yes, as long as the referee is happy with it'."

Partizan have now lost both of their matches, and look set for a battle with Braga for the Europa League place.

Coach Alexandar Stanojevic said: "We have to admit that Arsenal were a better team, so we have to go on."