Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fabianski's a SNAG

"I think it would have had long-term consequences for Lukasz if we had gone out against Porto. Mental consequences, because he is a conscientious guy, very intelligent but, as well, sensitive."

- Arsene Wenger, on Lukasz Fabianski

I don't know what to think about Fabianski. His performances this season has been atrocious. He's made terrible mistakes, let in some horribly funny goals, and had some truly nightmarish games. Every time I see Fabianski on the team sheet I make sure that my brown corduroy trousers have been freshly laundered, because I know that every minute he's in goal is a minute I spend crapping my pants in expectation.

And yet, he's not THAT bad a 'keeper, surely? He's a full Polish international. He was rated the best 'keeper in the Polish league. He's got an outstanding collection of youTube clips. He's amazing with reflex saves. He's only 23 and has time on his hands to improve.

So what's the problem?

Wenger thinks that Fabianski is too sensitive. I can sympathise with that. I, too, am a sensitive guy. I like to walk along beaches at sunset, pick wildflowers in sun-kissed mountain meadows and cuddle puppies and kittens and junk in my spare time. I cry at weddings and enjoy the odd chick flick. And incidentally, I'd be a terrible 'keeper because I'd flinch when someone's kicking a leather ball at me at 100km/hour. For some reason, I think it would hurt.

I'm a bit sensitive that way.

So I can understand how sensitivity can get in the way of being an outstanding 'keeper. You need a mad-nutter, thou-shalt-not-pass mentality when you're a 'keeper. Let's look at the last two good 'keepers at Arsenal:

1. Jens Lehmann was a mad-nutter. Remember that bit when he crashed into a Chelsea(?) player and they both rolled on the ground in apparent agony? Remember that bit when he took a piss in a water-bottle while the ball was still in play? Jens Lehmann was mad as a march hare, and he commanded the defence with a combination of erratic brilliance and perpetual insanity.

2. David Seaman wasn't as mad as Jens Lehmann. Mr Safe Hands was an institution at the Arsenal, so I doubt anyone called him Mad Dog David, but then again, he did sport a 70s porn-star moustache and pony-tail right up into the 2000s. So even if his madness didn't show on the field of play, he was definitely a bit unhinged.

So where does this leave Fabianski? Lukasz doesn't piss in a water-bottle behind play, and he doesn't have a porn-star moustache. He's got a shag mullet and a healthy prostate. He's a SNAG who thinks deep thoughts about how badly he fucks up when he lines up for the Arsenal, and he broods about his performances. Instead of having an ego the size of mountain (a la Jens Lehmann), he's got a mountain of self-doubt and recrimination on his shoulders.

To be honest, I think Fabianski has the talent to be an Arsenal goalkeeper. You don't get to be a full international without having talent. I think the problem is that he spends too much time sitting on the bench, thinking about his next chance to impress. And when he gets that opportunity, he blows it spectacularly in a monumental brain-freeze. Unlike a mad-nutter like Lehmann, Fabianski can't turn his thoughts off and just live in the moment. Fabianski wants it so badly that when the moment comes, he can't perform. And after each bad performance, the anxiety builds.

I think Wenger should bite the bullet and send him off on loan. Get him to a Championship club, give him 38 games of opposition strikers firing shots at him, and his confidence will build. He'll start remembering that he's a good 'keeper. He'll start to command his area. He'll stop making those mind-numbingly bad decisions. And maybe, just maybe, he'll come back and be good enough to step into the shoes of Mad Dog Lehmann and Porn Star Seaman.

However, we still need a new 'keeper at Arsenal. ASAFP.

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