Szczesny key to Gunners' resurgence

AP

Last season Szczesny, who has just turned 22, made his English Premier League debut in a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United due to an injury to Fabianski and he has never looked back since.

Wojciech Szczesny was playing for Brentford in League One two years ago but the Arsenal goalkeeper has now established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the English Premier League.

Following the departure of veteran German keeper Jens Lehmann in 2008, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger gave opportunities to Lukasz Fabianski, Manuel Almunia and Vitor Mannone, but not one of the three looked convincing.

Szczesny was billed as an exciting prospect and two loan spells with the Bees aided his development, with the Pole impressing in the third tier of English football.

Then last season Szczesny, who has just turned 22, made his English Premier League debut in a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United due to an injury to Fabianski and he has never looked back.

Szczesny soon became the Gunners' first-choice keeper and he was outstanding in a famous UEFA Champions League victory over Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium.

Barca have since been linked with a big-money move for the agile Szczesny, now a Poland international, but the Gunners have no intention of letting him leave.

Despite a poor start to the season, resurgent Arsenal look destined to finish in the top four and qualify for the UEFA Champions League once again next season and Szczesny has played a key role in the London club's upturn in fortunes.

After regularly having to answer questions about his side's lack of a reliable keeper, Wenger now has one of the most highly-regarded stoppers in Europe in the form of Szczesny.

And the Frenchman insists the sky is the limit for the player who graduated from the club's famous youth set-up.

Wenger said: “The talent was always there but he is maturing quickly. I like that he is a good communicator. You have to adjust, it's important to find a balance.

“I wouldn't like to say publicly what he needs to do, I'd rather tell him myself. Overall he has the basic talent to be a top-class keeper. How far he goes will depend on how much he wants to improve.”

Brad Friedel and Edwin van der Sar are just two examples of goalkeepers improving with age, so given Szczesny's tender years and his current form he could become one of the Gunners' best ever keepers.

European champions Barca and their big Spanish rivals Real Madrid are reportedly keen to sign him, but after waiting for so long to find a top-class keeper, Wenger will be determined to keep Szczesny for the long term.

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