Sport Soccer

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Szczesny now stronger after being dropped, says Wenger

QPR 0 Arsenal 1 Jeremy Wilson

THEO WALCOTT might have taken just 20 seconds to score Arsenal's fastest Premier League goal, but the defining moment of this match was to arrive in virtual slow motion some 87 minutes later.

The ball had dropped to Loic Remy on the edge of the penalty area and his powerfully struck curling shot had looked destined for the bottom corner of the goal.

Wojciech Szczesny was even down relatively late but, with his 6ft 5ins frame at full stretch, he tipped the ball around the post.

In one action, Szczesny had secured Arsenal three vital points in the race for a top-four finish and presented Wenger with a huge selection quandary when Arsenal meet Wigan in their penultimate game tomorrow week.

"I thought it was in," said Wenger. "At first when I saw him dive I thought he would not get there. Remy took the shot very early and you needed a very great save. It shows the importance of a goalkeeper."

It also said something for the character of Szczesny. After being dropped for more than a month amid concern over his psychological state, Szczesny was then forced to issue a public apology for his father's claim that Wenger had picked his son when injured and was to blame for his poor form.

Arsenal had also been carefully watching potential new goalkeepers, including Stoke's Asmir Begovic, ahead of the summer transfer window.

Szczesny was given another chance only because Lukas Fabianski broke a rib and Wenger believes that he has been helped by the jolt of being dropped.

"When he came back he was sharper than when I left him out," said Wenger. "Our job is to be competitive. That is what you have seen with people like David Seaman and Jens Lehmann. When I took them out, they came back stronger. Wojciech does that well and he's in a good frame now."

A more serious concern for Wenger is his attack. Lukas Podolski and Walcott both regularly outline their desire to play in the central striker's position but, with Olivier Giroud still suspended, this was further evidence that Arsenal are short in that position.

Yes, Walcott's goal on Saturday was his 20th of the season and further underlined an improvement with his finishing. Podolski, too, is clinical when a chance presents itself, but neither player has the all-round movement and touch, particularly with their back to goal, to convince that it is their best position.

"Twenty goals for Theo is a very good return," said Wenger. "He is more mature in his finishing. He makes good runs and he is calm now in front of goal." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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