Posted March 15, 2013 on AP on Fox
It was barely a year ago that Wojciech Szczesny was being touted as the man to solve Arsenal's long-standing goalkeeper problem. Tall, agile, overflowing with self-belief and, at the time, only 21, he had all the attributes to be Arsenal's No. 1 for years to come. He was a natural heir to Jens Lehmann, the keeper from the ''Invincibles'' era. Unfortuantely for Szczesny, it's all gone downhill from there. After a disheartening European Championship in which he was dropped after his sending-off in the tournament's opening game, a series of errors this season has now cost him his place in Arsenal's team. More galling for Szczesny is that the jersey has gone back to compatriot Lukasz Fabianski - and could be in his possession for a while after Fabianski's superb display in a 2-0 win at Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Friday that Szczesny still has a future at Arsenal - contrary to reports in the British media - but that every position is ''up for grabs.'' ''Who gave Wojciech a chance from nowhere in the youth teams? It was me because I rate him highly and have a big respect for what he has done,'' Wenger said. ''But we all have ups and down physically and mentally and he has played many, many games this season.'' Szczesny will have noticed Wenger's upbeat assessment of Fabianski, who starred in his first game in more than a year. Bayern was kept scoreless at Allianz Arena for the first time in four seasons. ''He has changed a lot,'' Wenger said. ''There has been a complete mental transformation in Lukasz's attitude. He is more vocal, has more authority and mentally he absorbs the pressure of the game much better. ''He has a huge talent, which we know all about. Sometimes to go out of the game for a while helps people to mature and think about their own game. If they really want to become a better player, they think, `How can I become better.''' Fabianksi is likely to be in goal for Arsenal's trip to Swansea in the Premier League on Saturday. Szczesny committed few mistakes last season but he seems to have been engulfed in the defensive problems that have undermined Arsenal's current campaign. A glaring error in the fifth round of the FA Cup last month against Blackburn, when he fumbled a shot out to Colin Kazim-Richards for the game's only goal, saw Arsenal embarrassingly lose to the second-tier team at home. Szczesny was also at fault for Andreas Weimann's goal for Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium on Feb. 23. Earlier in the season, he flapped at a cross against Southampton to allow Danny Fox to score. In fairness, with center backs Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny all struggling for form in front of him, Szczesny hasn't had much protection. But there's no doubt his confidence has been at a low in recent weeks. ''When you go into this job, you know you have competition,'' Wenger said. ''Everybody faces the same competition and the players who have come in have been on the bench for a long, long time. They all have the same problem. ''The job of being a top-level competitor is to deal with that.''
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