Arsenal FC: Top 10 Saves of the 2010/11 Season

Toni Okike@@enigma106Senior Analyst IIJune 25, 2011

Arsenal FC: Top 10 Saves of the 2010/11 Season

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    Arsenal Football Club shipped in a total of 64 goals from July 17, 2010 to May 22, 2011, with goals from set pieces taking a large percentage of the goals conceded.

    As expected, the Premier League was the competition where Arsenal conceded the highest amount of goals all season long with 41 being the magic number. These goals proved costly for Arsenal in their title bid because Arsenal settled for fourth place after challenging for Premier League honors with Manchester United for a considerable chunk of the season.

    The Carling Cup of the 2010/11 season would have been Arsenal’s first trophy in six years, but a self-inflicted wound in the final match was more than enough for Birmingham City to win the trophy.

    Arsenal’s first goal conceded in the Carling Cup was in the hands of Lukasz Fabianski when he failed to make a save from a tame shot by Robbie Keane. Wojciech Szczesny’s outburst made him usurp Vito Mannone to be Arsenal’s Cup Keeper because Manuel Almunia had fallen out of favor with Wenger after his antics when West Brom visited the Emirates.

    Szczesny kept clean sheets against Newcastle and Wigan, but he conceded a goal in the semifinal when Ipswich hosted Arsenal. A second leg clean sheet against Ipswich paved the way for a final showdown with Birmingham City, but Nikola Zigic and Obafemi Martins left Arsenal fans and players alike with tears that could fill buckets.

    Leeds United’s Robert Snodgrass thought that his penalty was enough to give his team a fairytale win against Arsenal in the FA Cup, but Fabregas’ penalty canceled it out. Arsenal won the return leg in Elland Road but the standout goal conceded went into Arsenal’s net—thanks to a screamer from a Leeds midfielder.

    Almunia was in goal when Arsenal conceded two goals to Huddersfield Town and Leyton Orient, but Arsenal’s FA Cup adventure ended in the hands of rivals Manchester United courtesy of two goals from Fabio and Wayne Rooney.

    Arsenal started the Champions League with a 6-0 spanking of newbies Braga before conceding a solitary goal to Partizan in their 3-1 win at Belgrade. Eduardo scored two goals on both grounds when Arsenal played Shakhtar in a fortnight. Braga’s Matheus’ brace put Arsenal’s Champions League life on a thin thread, but a 3-1 win against Partizan sent Arsenal for a double date with Barcelona.

    Villa made a clinical finish when Barcelona visited the Emirates, but Robin van Persie and Andrey Arshavin gave the gooners a night to remember. Arsenal’s visit to the Nou Camp was a horrible affair because the gooners made history by being the first team not to make any attempt on goal for 90 minutes. A Messi brace and a Xavi finish was enough to send the Gunners packing.

    Despite all these shortcomings, Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabianski and Wojciech Szczesny made some magnificent saves that can never be forgotten by the Arsenal faithful.

    Here’s my take on the top 10 saves made by Arsenal goalies in the 2010/11 campaign.

10. Lukasz Fabianski Against Partizan (29th September, 2010)

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    After Almunia proved his critics right that he was a goalie bereft of confidence, Wenger gave Fabianski another chance to quell his own personal demons. Fabianski was faced with a penalty that would have given Partizan an outside chance of getting back into the game, but he produced a top drawer save that guided the ball out for a corner. The scream Fabianski let out after saving the penalty could be heard on the Moon.

9. Wojciech Szczesny Against Aston Villa (15th May, 2011)

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    With Arsenal pushing hard for that all-important goal after going two goals down, Aston Villa hit them on the break with a 3-on-3 situation. Young had his shot saved by Szczesny, the ball fell to Downing who fired the ball through the legs of Gibbs, but the young Pole was alert enough to make another good save.

8. Manuel Almunia Against Blackburn (28th August, 2010)

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    Manuel Almunia against Blackburn: It was a good stop from Arsenal’s troubled goalie as he brought back the form of the 2007/08 season to make a save that guided the ball over for a corner kick, but he hit his back on the post in the follow-up.

7. Lukasz Fabianski Against Fulham (4th December, 2010)

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    Samir Nasri was the star of the show when Fulham visited the Emirates with his two breathtaking goals, but with Arsenal trying to see off the game at 2-1, Fulham attacked them with one final surge. Lukasz Fabianski once again proved to his critics that he can be the difference between three points and one point because his low save from Zoltan Gera’s shot was a reminder that his concentration levels are second to none.

6. Lukasz Fabianski Against Manchester City (23rd October, 2010)

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    Since he claimed the No. 1 jersey back from Almunia, Fabianski played more games with confidence and consistency. When Arsenal visited the City of Manchester stadium, Fabianski made a magnificent save from a shot by Boateng. With many bodies present in the box, there was little time for Fabianski to gear himself up but he did superbly to punch the ball out for a corner.

5. Wojciech Szczesny Against Manchester United (1st May, 2011)

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    This game was meant to be Arsenal’s match of the season, but poor results against Liverpool, Tottenham and Bolton paved the way for a simple stroll in the park for the Gunners when Manchester United visited the Emirates. When Wayne Rooney had a chance to put Manchester United ahead with a free kick, Szczesny stepped up to make a very fine save.

4. Wojciech Szczesny Against Sunderland (4th March, 2011)

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    In football, when you attack you leave spaces behind. Sessegnon skinned Clichy and sent a good cross to Man Utd’s reject Welbeck. He brought ball under control superbly with his back to goal then lashed a hard shot to our bottom corner. The young big Pole came to Arsenal’s rescue with another fantastic save.

3. Wojciech Szczesny Against Manchester United (13th December, 2010)

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    When Arsenal visited Old Trafford in December, Wojciech Szczesny was handed a debut which he performed admirably. Rooney noticed that Szczesny was off his line so he tried to chip the goalie from outside the box. Szczesny did well to pull up a magnificent save.

2. Wojciech Szczesny Against Newcastle (27th October, 2010)

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    Arsenal whitewashed Newcastle in their Carling Cup encounter with four goals to none, but Newcastle had a chance to give their fans something to cheer about when Ryan Taylor had a free kick on the edge of the box. The dead ball was swung goalwards with pace, precision and power, but Wojciech Szczesny acquired the reflexes of a cat to make a truly magnificent save.

1. Lukasz Fabianski Against Wolves (9th November, 2010)

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    In a game where we found ourselves at the back foot throughout the game, Fabianski pulled out a save of the highest quality in the dying moments of the game. With Arsenal leading by a lone goal with seconds to spare, a low drive to the bottom corner was saved by Fabianski’s left hand.

    The best part of it all was that his long throw led to a quick counter attack which saw the Gunners go two up thanks to Chamakh. This save stands out as my save of the season because of its importance in that game.

    If Fabianski didn’t make that stop, Wolves would have equalized and the tie would’ve ended in a draw because the game was almost over.

Conclusion

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    Arsenal’s goalkeeping situation this season was one of the most grueling in Arsene Wenger’s tenure as the club’s manager. He tried to seal Schwarzer at the start of the campaign by Fulham’s resilience to keep the goalie, coupled with Arsenal’s rejected bids, meant that Arsene Wenger was going to stick to his goalkeeping quartet of Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone and Wojciech Szczesny.

    Mannone was allowed to move on loan to Hull and it seems as if his future with the club is uncertain because he reiterated his desire to remain at Hull. Almunia’s complacency paved the way for a resurgent Fabianski, but injury cut his best Arsenal season short. Szczesny came in his stead and performed admirably for the remainder of the season.

    The success of the Poles was one of Arsenal’s positives and they’ll leave Wenger with a lot of thought about who his No. 1 custodian will be next season. At least it’s good to know that we won’t be needing Reina, Buffon or any other goalie in the galaxy.

    We can be assured that our goalkeeping eggs are now stored in a Polish basket.

    This article was written by Toni Okike, the writer of an Arsenal blog called Gooner Daily. You can follow the blog on Twitter @goonerdaily. You can also visit the blog’s Facebook page for updates.