by Lewis Ambrose
Arsenal are reportedly close to signing Petr Čech, who would surely be number one next season, but how does the (soon-to-be) former Chelsea man stack up against Wenger’s previous first choice goalkeepers?
Some would argue that Arsenal have been waiting over a decade to replace David Seaman, others will point to Jens Lehmann as a top class goalkeeper, and a handful may even think Wojciech Szczesny is already at that level.
A real Arsenal legend. ‘Safe Hands’ wasn’t called that for no reason at all.
A huge man with incredible presence for one-on-one situations and snapshot reflexes to match, Seaman could win and keep you in games on his own.
One of the nicest men in football, David Seaman was a truly world class ‘keeper that Wenger was fortunate to inherit when he became Arsenal manager in 1996.
Seaman remained Arsenal and England number one until 2003, when he left for Manchester City.
Under Wenger, Seaman won two doubles (1998 and 2002) as well as one more FA Cup before leaving in 2003.
Arsenal’s next goalkeeper was the insanely driven Jens Lehmann, who arrived from Borussia Dortmund for around £3M.
When he wasn’t arguing with opposition players at corners Lehmann was a very good goalkeeper, going unbeaten in his first 47 league appearances for the Gunners.
In 2005 he was the hero in the FA Cup Final as we defeated Manchester United on penalties in Cardiff, while 2006 saw Lehmann save a last minute penalty from Riquelme to send Arsenal in to the Champions League Final where the German was unfortunately sent off.
He briefly returned in 2011 at the age of 41 with Arsenal in need of a goalkeeper, conceding once in a game against Blackpool.
Eventually losing his place to the next man on the list, Lehmann kept 80 clean sheets in 200 appearances during his four seasons with Arsenal and won 60 caps for Germany during his career.
The less said the better?
Almunia joined from Celta Vigo when he couldn’t even make their bench. The warning signs were there.
Actually a very good shot-stopper (see the first half against Barcelona in 2010) on his day, Almunia unfortunately loved running out of his goal at odd moments (see the first minute of the second half against Barcelona in 2011).
An indecisive goalkeeper allergic to his goalline is no good thing.
To his credit Almunia was also good when facing a penalty, but his positioning, decision making, and ability to randomly have hands made of jelly cost Arsenal so many games that he won’t ever be remembered particularly fondly.
A man who splits opinions like almost no other.
He has been on the end of huge defeats (through no fault of his own) and a mix up between him and Laurent Koscielny cost us the League Cup Final in 2011, but he has grown up and responded to that incredibly well.
Me? I think he’s quality. Commanding, quick, reads the game well, incredible reactions – Wojciech Szczesny is Arsenal’s answer in the long-term.
A questionable attitude has cost him his place in the team after a hugely impressive 2013/14 campaign and he will have on hell of a struggle with Petr Čech now standing in his way.
Lukasz Fabianski and David Ospina?
Both had moments of looking very good (moreso Fabianksi) and moments of looking capable of a ghastly error (also mainly Fabianski).
Neither held down the number one shirt for a particularly considerable period.
So, could Petr Čech be he best goalkeeper ever signed by Wenger?
His record up to this point certainly says so, but time will tell.
It’s what he does in an Arsenal shirt that matters – if he ever makes it into one.