There’s a lot of good news coming from Arsenal’s new loan strategy this season, but one area of concern is in the goalkeeping department.
Of the many Arsenal players on loan right now, two of them are goalkeepers – Tom Smith and Dejan Iliev. Both will be a little worried about how things are panning out at the moment.
Iliev is probably the more concerning of the two right now. Initially, he started against AFC Wimbledon and kept a clean sheet, but he made a mistake against Bristol Rovers in a 1-0 defeat on his second appearance.
That error saw him drop to the bench for the following game before an injury kept him out for the next couple of weeks.
Not disastrous, except that he didn’t come back into the team after his recovery. He’s now up to five straight games on the bench whilst fit and available to play. When you’re 25 years old on loan in League One, that’s a bit of a worry.
As for Smith, the 18-year-old dropped down to the National League for regular games, and he got them at first. He started in three league games and an FA Cup clash, but his last appearance was a 5-1 defeat to Woking FC.
After that, he dropped to the bench for this weekend’s game against King’s Lynn Town. It’s only one game, but as a goalkeeper, the optics of dropping out of the side after they lose 5-1 certainly aren’t good.
It’s early days for both of them. Iliev may well come back into the team soon and make a long run to the end of his loan. Smith might just have been rested this weekend.
But this is an area Arsenal have struggled with in the past. Look at Iliev’s previous loans, Emi Martinez’s loans before he joined Reading, or Matt Macey. We don’t seem to pick the right clubs for our goalkeepers very often, so it’s something worth highlighting.