By Morgan Rubes, Chair of Arsenal Canada
It’s almost time to vote for the October player of the month, and I would say that we can open and close the vote now. The player I am suggesting for the award is unlikely to play today against Chelsea, but he’s played every minute so far this month and has been integral to keeping Arsenal top of the league (it feels so good to say that).
Wojciech Szczesny is my nominee. Did I stutter? Now all of a sudden it’s as quiet as a church. I’m being serious, hop on over to Arsenal player and watch each October match again, watch every play by Szczesny and all four goals he allowed. Yes, he did allow four goals this month, but were any really his fault?
Claudio Yacob’s header was really well taken and put on to the floor, but with that kind of space every Premier League player should find the back of the net, even Torres. Arsenal’s defence totally let him down. First Jenkinson fell off his mark, for reasons I would not forgive (I’m a goalie too), but even before that Gibbs was slow catching up to Mertesacker and the backline. Those two moments of laziness created the goal scoring opportunity which Yacob converted. Wojciech saved 3 shots for a 75% save percentage.
Norwich put half of the their 12 shots on net and Wojciech saved 83.3% of the shots on net (5/6). The one that got past him was a half-volley from Johnny Howson because he was not closed down by Kieran Gibbs. It was expertly kept low and tucked against the post. Wojciech showed tremendous lateral range to get a touch to it and half the time he might have stopped it, but considering the quality of the take by Howson, I cannot fault Wojciech.
The Dortmund match at Emirates was a loss, two goals conceded on three shots on net. Arsenal’s defence did a great job is preventing Dortmund from getting chances. The first goal by that Armenian chap was a fluke in my mind. If you watch his leg he’s lined up to pull the ball across the net, Wojciech reads that and plants his feet to move to his right. Mkhitaryan has the ball skid a bit in front of him and he gets in a glancing blow with his toe. The ball veers right, flat footing Szczesny and into the net; it was a goal I’m more accustomed to seeing in an under-12 match rather than in the Champions League. Maybe Wojciech could have been more patient, on the other hand he read the play well. Then Lewandowski scored to make it 2-1. Wojciech was completely stranded by the defence, Sagna was 30 yards away on a slow trot back and everyone had drifted to the penalty spot. He squared up and closed the distance to Lewandowski who put the ball in the only seam he could. Again, not Wojciech’s fault and his technique was perfect getting into position.
Against Napoli he made one save and against Crystal Palace he made four saves. His distribution was solid, his command in the air was great and of the saves he has made several have been top class. At the end of the first half against Norwich Szczesny made a great clearance when Sagna had a snooze, then parried well on Snodgrass’ cross and then parried a shot from one of Norwich’s young midfielders. It kept the score 1-0 Arsenal, a time when a goal conceded could have drastically changed the outcome of the match. Wojciech’s communication and shot stopping have been crucial to Arsenal taking 13 out of 15 points in October.
Wojciech is my man of the month for October, maybe he is yours too.