Dragao’s Den: We’re not out yet

Porto Amateur Dramatic Society 2-1 Arsenal

I read somewhere earlier this week that Lukasz Fabianski was becoming frustrated by his lack of opportunities at Arsenal.

What can you say to that? On that performance, it’s some feat for him to have got any time on the pitch as Arsenal’s goalkeeper at all. When push came to shove – or should it be when slip came to slapstick – he once again fell short of what is expected from an Arsenal keeper. And sadly it’s merely the latest in a long line of howlers from him.

I don’t particularly want to make this a witch-hunt for a young keeper but when both conceded goals were at least in part down to him then you have to take him to task. The first goal was a simple slip-through-the-hands error. Awful and, for him, very embarrassing. There were mitigating circumstances in the second, but ignoring the ref’s rapid intervention and the way he seemed to get in the way of Campbell, it was still Fabianski who picked up the back pass and it was Fabianski who gave the ball back to the ref before the Arsenal defence had even sniffed the danger. Really naïve stuff.

There will now be those who wonder whether Fabianski has already sealed his own fate as an Arsenal prospect. Barring more Almunia injury woe, it already seems unlikely that he will play again this season. He does have a few things going for him though; namely Wenger’s patronage and his own youth.

Still, when we start seeing Almunia as some kind of goalkeeping demi-god by comparison, you know things are a bit screwy. Quite how we have assembled such a collection of substandard keepers is another matter entirely.

Enough of the negatives though, for with a better keeper, tonight could and should have ended differently. Although we were sloppy at times (in particular after their second goal), I thought we also showed some real attacking threat. Rosicky was very good on the right (and had a 100% nailed-on penalty waved away by the ref), Diaby was tricky until he faded, and Bendtner fought hard up front, having a few chances of his own.

All this with a pretty extensive injury list. For the return leg we’ll need some of the absentees back – that Song is now oodles better than Denilson is beyond dispute – but above all we’ll somehow, and I sigh a bit when I write this for the ninety billionth time, need to wipe out the incessant errors that have blighted this season.

Fabregas did not mince his words after the game when he said, “When you concede these goals you cannot go anywhere… schoolboy goal”.

So yes, it’s exasperating to have to report on another defeat, and another worrisome goalkeeping performance, but against the Porto side I saw tonight, I’m not trembling in my boots. They looked dangerous at times, but defensively they were like us – basically, porous – and at home, with an away goal, you’d have to say we stand a good chance of making it to the quarter-finals.

Looking beyond that is something of a lottery, but one thing is sure: if we continue to make rudimentary errors (tonight it was Fabianski but he’s hardly the first to have lost concentration this season) then we won’t be setting Madrid alight in May.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Pete

    Wenger seemed to suggest that Almunia won’t be fit for Saturday, so he has a decision to make. If he goes with Fabianski, the Pole is in last chance saloon. If he opts for Mannone, the Pole is effectively a goner already.

    It is incredible to think that aside from two gifted goals, Porto had just two long range efforts. That’s it. For that reason alone, we should be confident of sweeping them aside at the Emirates. The worry, as you say, is even if we do, these mistakes are too consistent to think they will not crop up again.

  2. Jeff/433

    Not to have a moan, but I thought the keeper could have done better on a couple occasions. Even I know the rule about not picking up a backpass.

  3. Danish Gooner

    This team deserves nothing and will get nothing,do you really think that a team that plays as badly as we do defenisvely is gonna reach Madrid,i hope you are halfway joking or you are as deluded as our calamity manager.

  4. The Saint

    To think we had the chance to get David James in the window and with him determined to prove himself to Capello as well but no because stubborn Wenger is determined to kill himself rather than to admit he needs an international calibre keeper. Before he joined Man U, we had a chance to get Van der Sar on the cheap too as well as Shay Given, Joe Hart, Sorenson, Jaaskerlainen etc.

    Man U: Van der Sar
    Chelsea: Cech
    Villa: Friedel
    Man City: Given
    Liverpool: Reina
    Birmingham: Hart
    Portsmouth: James

    Arsenal: Almunia!

    One of these things just doesn’t belong here, la di da ….. (think Sesame Street of years ago)

    How about: Wilson, Jennings, Lukic, Seaman, Lehmann …. Almunia!

    One of these things just doesn’t belong here, la di da ….. (think Sesame Street of years ago)

    Has any team won anything with a dodgy keeper?

    Can anyone name any trophy-winning team with one?

  5. dilema

    I agree with u all that our keeper situation is horrendous! But I think defensively as a team we’ve gone to pot! Sol had a decent game but we can’t rely on him he’s just a fill in. Clichy is falling apart, diaby is SOOO frustrating with his lack of judgement, and even Cesc was giving away the ball way too often and easily…its amazing people talk about how much posseion we have, but all the games recently is watched we can’t keep it for fudge! Well, when it matters..and am I the only one who thinks NB is a mess??! He’s like bambi on ice its ridiculous! Proffessional players who can’t shoot, or whip in a decent ball! I will ALWAYS be a gooner, but Arsene is wrong about this team. And wrong to put so much faith in “his” youngsters, they’ve had long enough and none have really come to the fore..except Song who has really impressed me….lol..don’t even start me on Theo! Anyway I feel we can get through this tie, but beyond that I’m not sure.

  6. Govindraj


  7. Lettraggad

    Our keepers are so substandard It shouldn be hard to find a better guy already next week .. somewhere there must be a goalie available to come in on a free transfer..

  8. Lettraggad

    Fabianski is actually not a bad shot stoper between the (regular) howlers he even showed some of it yesterday .. I noticed he actually caughtt some balls that Im 100% shure Allmunia would have flapped away or something.

  9. PD

    No point blaming Fabianski. This is totally Wenger’s fault. It’s disgraceful that a club which is 3rd in the league & in the knockout stages of CL don’t have a keeper good enough to be counted in the top 10 in England. (and that’s being nice, you could quite easily stretch it to 15/20) And the only reason we don’t have a better one is pure stubbornness on Wenger’s part.
    It is very,very hard to see more points not being dropped in the league/more problems being caused in ko games in Europe before the end of the season.Very depressing.
    For Saturday, Diaby needs to be pushed deeper & Ramsey brought in because Denilson is quite frankly rubbish at the minute.
    But the biggest worry is Cesc. His demeanour during the game & his post-match comments smack of a man who has had enough & is waiting til the end of the season to be off. I’ve always treated Barca/Real rumours with a pinch of salt but looking at Cesc last night it’s hard to believe he will be with us next season.

    On the positive side : Sol was excellent (see that Arsene – a pragmatic, short-term signing having a positive effect – amazing eh ???) , both Nasri/Rosicky look to be getting back to their best form & there was nothing from Porto which suggested to me that we won’t get through. I will be very surprised if we don’t.

  10. ps7

    Fabianski seems fine with instinctive shots, the problems arise when he has a decision to make. For the second goal it was quite clear that Campbell was shielding the ball back, but instead of coming to the edge of the box early to meet the ball, he dithered by the 6 yard line, only coming to meet Campbell too late and that is what started the catalogue of errors.

    Fab 4 must feel like that line in the song ‘Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you’!

    It took supporters a few minutes to digest what had happened, it must have been so tough for the rest of the team. I also can’t work out what has happened to our fitness, we have always been able to play right to the end of matches often improving in the last 10 mins. Yesterday the team looked dead on their feet towards the end particularly Diaby.

    Agree with the earlier comment about Cesc, he looked as if he has had enough.

  11. Petey

    ManU won with Bartez (not sure on the spelling) but we will not win anything this year i love Arsenal and the Wenger years have been great but our goalkeeping situation is criminal there is money to spend and it hasn’t again is criminal and is going to cost us i think its time for change

  12. Farnborough Gunner

    There’s little argument that the first goal was a clear error by Fabianski, but the second goal was possibly partly due to his state of mind following the first goal, plus naivety. But there must be a reason for the continual run of errors by our defenders and keepers (3 of them so far this season – goalies that is, not errors – if only!).

    My theory is that the underlying problem is a lack of organisation or leadership at the back. Although there are question marks over our keepers, Almunia and Fabianski at least are capable of better than their recent form suggests. There’s also no doubt in my mind that our regular back four are all good defenders, but the full backs at least have been well below par of late. I would like to see us buy a more commanding golakeeper and a bigger centre-back, but a decent defesnive coach and someone with the prescence of Adams or even Keown on the pitch could organise the personel we have into a much more effective unit.

    The individual errors we keep seeing are a symptom of the problem rather than the cause.

  13. Farnborough Gunner

    Please excuse typing errors in my last posting – my boss kept walking by while I was typing, which was a bit off-putting!

    As a footnote. In an ideal world, I’d like to see Sol get a regular start alongside either Vermalen or Gallas, as the bigger defender I believe we need and to organise those around him. I just doubt whether he is up to starting too many games and he isn’t the longer term solution, but he could be invaluable for the rest of this season.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Vermalen in defensive midfield, at least if Song is not available, with Gallas and Sol in central defense.

  14. DB10

    It is a fact that FIFA will bend the rules and allow an outside-transfer-window purchase if you can prove that you do not have a Goalkeeper. Well we haven’t, so what the fuck are waiting for Arsene?

  15. Paul Jeffrey

    A very poor display in defense. I still think with a stronger squad we can win the return leg

  16. Stevie G

    Thought Sol played remarkably well for a man of 35 and his postioning was exemplary,Sagna and Vermalen did’nt do too much wrong yet every time Arsenal lost the ball its enough to make you want to close your eyes and hide behind the sofa such is the brittleness of our final goalkeeper.
    But worse of all the Fabregas interview spoke volumes of a young man who had seen enough and had had enough.
    Just hope his level of self motivation holds ip for the rest of the season.

Comments are closed.