Sunday, 31 May 2009

Arsereview 2008-09 Player Ratings: Goalkeepers

As promised, here is the first installment of my player ratings for the season.

I think it's easiest to work through the team from the back, although no doubt I'll forget somebody and have to include them later.

The way I rate players comes from my childhood: growing up playing Championship Manager: you have to be dreadful to get below a 5, a 7 is a good game, an 8 is an excellent game, and to get a 9 one has to do all but everything perfectly - maybe one misplaced pass; a 10 represents pure perfection.

So here goes...

Manuel Almunia: When we were in the midst of being hammered by Chelsea at home a couple of weeks ago, it showed just how much Almunia has improved. Back in December 2004, Jens was injured and Almunia had to play in goal against Chelsea. I remember how every time the ball came up our end, particularly at set pieces, the whole North Bank seemed incredibly worried - nobody knew what the unknown Spaniard would do, and more often that not, it wasn't pretty.
So the contrast, this month was huge: whereas back in 2004, we were pining for the (relative) safe pair of hands Lehmann was, in 2009 we were pining for Almunia to be in goal rather than Fabianski.

I agree with Wenger that it was the 37 goals conceded which proved the title was beyond us. But to be fair that's about ten to many and ten of those goals weren't conceded by Manuel. Coupled with the fact there could have been a Goal of the Season competition just from goals scored against Arsenal, Almunia has done exceptionally well.

It's blatant that the defence needs improvement; but the consistent improvement of the man behind them suggests that we have a very safe pair of hands in goal.

Arguably, he produced the individual performance of the season to keep us in the Champions League semi-final.

Yet, he has made the occasional error and United basically won the League through keeping clean sheets: they won 12 games 1-0 and if we could do that more, we'd compete better for the League.

But that said, it has been Almunia's best season so far, and the faith Wenger has shown in him has more than been justified. 8.5

Lukasz Fabianski: You've got to feel for Lukasz because people only remember his mistakes.

I was surprised when I just looked on and saw that he'd started 16 games this season.

And it's only when you think about Fabianski, that you remember the great saves he made at Ninian Park and that save he made against Wigan in the Carling Cup.

He's still young - especially in goalkeeping terms and was thrown into some big games. Those experiences will only aid him.

It's fair to say though that there are problems technically: the greatest advantage a keeper has is that he can handle the ball. So to come charging out of his box is an error of Fabianski's which needs to be fixed - it's not like he's only done it once.

And I'm not sure how he's progressed this season: it cannot be a coincidence that Lukasz's performances have coincided with lots of goals being conceded. It seems that he doesn't inspire confidence in his defence.

But at the same time he has played well in the domestic cups and I'm unconvinced Hilario at Chelsea is a better second choice. 6.

Vito Mannone: Played well against Stoke and has impressed for the reserves when called upon.

But you have to wonder why he's played such a small amount of professional football when he's 21. Yes, that's young in goalkeeping terms, but it's somewhat confusing as to why he hasn't been loaned out.

Has potential - will it be fulfilled though? 6.5

Tomorrow, the defence. Expect Carnage.

Keep the faith,


Anonymous said...

You spelled instalment wrong. It's one 'l'.

You keep making these schoolboy errors. Raise your game.

Hugo said...

While it is evident that Almunia has played better than he has in previous seasons, is this really justification for him recieving an 8.5?
I quote "an 8 is an excellent game, and to get a 9 one has to do all but everything perfectly". Almunia has had an excellent season but to place him on bordering perfection is a bit ambitious. When we've had less clean sheets than the rest of the top 4 and everton.

Adam said...

He missed 8 premiership games...

I think the point I was making is that despite playing behind a shit defence, he's kept us in it.

He's had more than an excellent season - at times, he's threatened perfection.

Anon: it can be either instalment or installment...

Ma'ariv Arovim said...

You also spelled 'too' wrong. I have to say I love reading your blogs almost as much as I love reading Piers Morgan's page in the Mail On Sunday just to admire the, well let's call it optimism (or arrogance) of the Arsenal faithful. Makes me're a failing club!

Anonymous said...

Adam, same anon here, I think you'll find that whilst it can be either 'instalment' or 'installment', the latter is the American spelling, which means that it is wholly inferior, and since you are English, not American, and that THIS IS ENGLAND...

You are wrong. Good day.

Adam said...

Anon: if you're going to be that pedantic, I refer you to your original comment.

The word you're looking for is 'spelt'.

Mrs. Watts said...


Anonymous said...

Adam, whilst I was originally going to bid you 'touché', I realised that unlike 'instalment' there are in fact two spellings for the past participle of the verb 'to spell' as your link confirms.

Therefore, you are still wrong, my grammar and spelling is impeccable, and you should give it up, sir.

Anonymous said...

Oops. Grammar and spelling are impeccable, I believe. My mistake.