With more injury doubts surrounding the mercurial Wojciech Szczesny and Lukas Fabianski, Arsène is left with one last option in Vito Mannone. If this were a year ago, I’d be irate. Now, I’m peachy. Reason being, Vito Mannone has grabbed his chances in between the sticks with two eager hands, and excluding intervention, hasn’t let go. He’s not the most vocal player you’ll ever come across, but never mistake confidence for volume. Vito has been cool, confident and composed, even in the most hectic situations.
Think back to the second half of Montpellier, when the ball fell squarely to Younès Belhanda, merely feet from the goal. Right then and there, I thought we’d coughed up two points, the inevitability of being undone by a lucky bounce already had me enraged. Belhanda wound up, took his shot, and then the ball was booted up the pitch. Hold on, what was that green thing? Why yes, Don Vito had stood his ground and saved a point-blank shot. In a footballing sense, Mannone was staring death in the face, but he stood and overcame. It’s moments like these where players show what they’re really made of, and Vito made sure he got it right.
“It went well again in Montpellier and I am really focused on gaining the No1 spot and keeping it”
“I had a great spell last year [at Hull] where I learned how to be a No 1 really,” Mannone said. “When you have games every three days it is a big challenge because you need to recover well and prepare for the next one.”
Vito certainly has the ability. In the 2011/12 season, he made a combined 127 saves for Hull City and Arsenal, where as Szczesny made 108. It doesn’t seem like much, but the difference between the two averages to 0.5 more saves per game, assuming they both played an entire season’s 38. Every inch counts in this game, so that “half save” could have been a clear-cut goal scoring chance that Vito would have saved, that Szczesny would have flubbed. This is obviously theoretical, but it’s something to think about nonetheless. (ESPNFC)
I was always a bit skeptical about Mannone’s future at the club, but with Fabianski poking his foot out the door, and Szczesny’s recent form heading in the same direction, it’s good to have another senior keeper in the ranks. It’s interesting to note that both Szczesny and Manonne got their chances because of an injury to others in front of them in the pecking order. Vito had more time to prepare, but the idea remains that our keepers can thrive under a bit of pressure. Having two quality players waiting in the wings to take your only possible position can do that.
Either way, Mannone grows more confident by the minute, and who knows, maybe by the end of this season he’ll be seen as the outright No1! A bold prediction you may think, but how many of you figured Szczesny would steal the limelight from Fabianski so quickly?
If you’re still not convinced about Mannone, have a look at how he single handedly kept the lead for us against Fulham a few years ago. Cheesy music aside, it’s a great snapshot of what Vito’s capable of doing for us in between the sticks. Let me know what you think of our current keeper predicament in the comments below!
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