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Hard to handle

Goalie troubles and inconsistency will cost Gunners

Paul Merson - Paul Merson Posted 1st October 2010 view comments

People say I'm a bit harsh on Arsenal sometimes, but it's the same old story with them every year.

A couple of weeks ago they put in one of the best performances you're likely to see as they wiped the floor with Braga in the Champions League. Then 10 days later they got slaughtered at home by West Brom.

Almunia: costing Arsenal points

Almunia: costing Arsenal points

If you want to be league champions then things like that can't happen. They've been an inconsistent team for the last few years and it doesn't seem to be changing.

You can't put it down to youth because they're not the youngest team around any more. This is a team of internationals who have been together for a long time and have plenty of experience. They just don't seem to have the consistency to win the league.

If Almunia's fit then Arsene Wenger will definitely pick him over Fabianski, but personally I think they need both of them in goal.

Paul Merson
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They don't have a good enough goalkeeper to win the league either, but that's not Manuel Almunia's fault, it's the manager's fault.

They need a goalie, simple as that. If you go through history and look at any team that has won a title in England or around the world, they all have a top-drawer goalie.

Almunia is good, but he's not top-drawer. His mistakes against Liverpool and West Brom have cost Arsenal at least three points - and we're only six games in. A top-drawer goalie will save you 10 points a year, not lose them, and that's why that position is so important.

Lukasz Fabianski deserves credit for his performance in the Champions League in midweek, but you suspect he'll make another mistake soon. One game doesn't make a season and top-drawer goalies will play like that every week.

If Almunia's fit then Arsene Wenger will definitely pick him over Fabianski, but personally I think they need both of them in goal!

As for Chelsea, they had their first real test of the season against Man City last week and they were very disappointing. Having looked so dominant in the first few games they didn't look like scoring a goal at Eastlands.

You have to give credit to City. They got their tactics right and stopped Chelsea playing, but it will be very different on Sunday. Arsenal don't know how to play a containing game like City did.

Arsenal will dominate possession like they have in the last few meetings between these sides. They were outstanding for the first 20-25 minutes at home to Chelsea last year - and then got blown away. They also had more of the ball at Stamford Bridge and got beaten.

Chelsea aren't fussed about letting Arsenal have the ball. They are superb at defending and will allow Arsenal to play in front of them before hitting them.

I think that will be the case again on Sunday. Chelsea are just too powerful and strong for this Arsenal side.

PAUL'S PREDICTION
HOME WIN - I'll say 3-1 to Chelsea. They seem to have something over Arsenal at the moment and I think their strength and power will be too much. Both sides looked good in the Champions League this week, but it'll be Chelsea for me on Sunday.

MERSON'S MAGIC MAN
NICOLAS ANELKA - He's a top-drawer player and if he plays well he's capable of ripping people apart. He'll play in a wider position, but will come inside to join Drogba and he's an important part of that Chelsea team. He has proved his class with the fantastic penalties he scored against Newcastle and Marseille.

Comments (67)

Gavin Alakija (Arsenal fan) says...

It is true that it will be a tough match for Arsenal. It is true Almunia is not a top of the league goalie. It is true that Chelsea spend 4 times more than they make in a season. It is true that Arsenal is the most profitable club in the World. It is true that they always compete nearly to the end for all trophies. It is true that if they listened to pundits like Paul they would soon not be competing for very much. (they never got anywhere in the Champs league when he played) No thanks, I''ll take Wenger over sheik sugardaddy or Russian Roubelette any day. Thanks for the support anyway.

Posted 15:40 3rd October 2010

Gavin R (Arsenal fan) says...

I think your stop on no team has ever won the PL with a poor goalkeeper he need to be one of the best and like you said will save you 10pts a season. Wenger has a blind stop for goalkeeper maybe he don''t understand them. It crazy but wenger knew he need to buy fail to so in the end the blame go to wenger I also believe a french back line will cost us big time we need player who are good not pick by nationally these boys fail to handle the west brom good luck against Drogba

Posted 15:01 3rd October 2010

Richard Daley (Arsenal fan) says...

First of all Paul - there arent that many top drawer goalies around. Van der Sar is at the twilight of his career - Cech is a shadow of his former self - Shay Given isnt world class - he cant command his area - thats why Wenger went for Schwarzer - because hes a very very good goalie - he won points for Fulham last year they had no right to win - then everyone else is too expensive - Wenger wont part with money for a long term gaolkeeper because he has Wolszesny (spelling?)and Mannone both future potentials - he wont risk losing either of those. Fabianski needs to go on loan to iron out his mistakes. Second - I think you - well everyone needs to stop for a moment and sit back - Almunia is not world class - but hes a very capable goalkeeper - just inconsistent is all - something he needs to cut out - but its easier said than done. thirdly to those of you saying arsenal have no chance against chelsea - grow up - Arsenal are capable of beating anyone - and your negative comments can only do harm than good - but their your opinions - not mine - i always believe we can beat our opponents whoever they are, so get behind Arsenal and stop slagging them off - if you do slag them off - im sorry your not a true Gooner.

Posted 14:33 3rd October 2010

Bev Morgan (Arsenal fan) says...

Time for Arsenal to show what they can do when they link up togeather, Chelsea are the force they have to beat and i have confidence in them. Arsenal 2-1

Posted 13:11 3rd October 2010

Luke Mahady (Chelsea fan) says...

i think merson is right, chelsea will be far to physical for arsenal and to all the united fans leaving comments will ya stop talkin bollox, you''s are jus hopin chelsea slip up cause utd have slipt up yet again, face it utd wont win anything this season, chelsea will win the league and champions league possibly if they can keep the squad fit and arsenal to finish second in the league and if t

Posted 12:30 3rd October 2010

Larry Byrne (Arsenal fan) says...

Respect your comments Paul just hope they are wrong, some one said 1 player does not make a team , perhaps , but when that player is the goalie then maybe there is a case, I know that any back 4 that is nervous about what the goalie is going to do can''t concentrate on their own job, anyway come on the gooners. Larry

Posted 11:00 3rd October 2010

Adam Lowe (Manchester United fan) says...

Personally I think Arsenal will come away with at least a draw. Chelsea are rocking since the Newcastle defeat and looked average against Man CIty and Marseille. I also think the danger from Arsenal could be Wilshire - the boy seems to be coming of age and this could be his moment to really cement his growing reputation. Everyone knows ARsenal will dominate in terms of possession but need to be aware of the counter attack. Since the Man United defeat in the Champions League where Rooney and Ronaldo scored within 5-10 seconds from Arsenals corner they have looked very suceptible to counter attacking football - especially as Wenger has never replace Viera.

Posted 09:23 3rd October 2010

Brad J (Arsenal fan) says...

Merson is right about the goalkeeping issue and the inconsistency. For me, a big factor is that the more mature Arsenal players with leadership qualities are spending too much time on the sidelines injured (what use are they there?!?). I look at the Arsenal team and currently we only really have Van Persie, Fabregas and Nasri who can take the game by the scruff of the neck if need be and help get the team over the line and 2 out of 3 of these are injured (again). You look at the players that have been brought in recently (Squillaci, Koscielny, Chamakh, Vermaelen, etc) and although they are good useful players, they don''t really strike me as players with either leadership skills or leadership potential. If we lose Fabregas to Barcelona and Van Persie continues to be out for long periods through injury then Arsenal''s inconsistency will get even worse!

Posted 05:58 3rd October 2010

Bashir Usman (Arsenal fan) says...

Paul got it just right, you hit the point when you said that Arsenal cannot play a containg game like city.Arsensl likes attacking with out caring about the back.Arsenal need to atimes play dirty ,they need to atimes forget about entertainment to grind result when meeting the big teams.

Posted 17:56 2nd October 2010

Jim Errington (Arsenal fan) says...

merse hits the nail on the head,we have little or no chance of getting a result against the chelse, we have too many injuries to key players all the time due to our style of football , as long as there are teams around like bolton ,blackburn,stoke etc., with managers like messrs allerdyce / pullis etc who''s job it is to get a result at any cost , its not about being hard enough to take the knocks ,ask eduardo, diabey ,ramsey if someone kicks you your kicked, even though they never ever meant it, and they are never ever that kind of player ho ho , please name the players that are????.. it would seem people are saying if you play that type of football your going to get the knocks yea,thats almost like saying if you earn and save money you should expect to get robbed ,no? at the end of the day shay given is available and so is my mum whose almost 80, if arsene thinks he doesnt need them they wont be getting the call, and the arse will not replace the chelse as nø 1 , leave it to des o''connor to sing the gooners new ANTHEM ''CARELESS HANDS'' OR ROY ORBISONS ''IN DREAMS'' ALWAYS A GOONER, OH! APPARENTLY ARSENE WOULD PREFER GEORGE MICHAEL''S ''FAITH''

Posted 17:55 2nd October 2010

Johan Lenor (Arsenal fan) says...

Spot on paul, We nee Shay Given, isnt that the most obvious solution/??

Posted 16:59 2nd October 2010

Tunde babalola (Arsenal fan) says...

Arsene Wenger needs to wake up.This team is seriously lightweight and both keepers are an embarassment.Every shot that heads towards Arsenals goal gets me chanting the Psalms,really.If Wenger does not atone for is mistakes by getting a decent keeper in during Jan window,the boos will ring from the stands...AT HIM.

Posted 16:27 2nd October 2010

Steve Hunter (Manchester United fan) says...

i thnk.a.draw.is.more.lickly.1-1.or.-2-2..a.game.of.importence.were.they.want.to.win.but.can''t.afford.to.lose.getting.1.point.better..than.dropping.3.not.after.last.week.and.with.united..sitting.nicely..in.between.

Posted 16:24 2nd October 2010

Ryan Menezes (Arsenal fan) says...

at steve ricketts, i laugh at a manchester city fan, one who hasnt tasted a trophy in how many years? give arsenal a load of it for not having one in five. a few days after you went and lost over 100mil in debt through the last year - something that exceeds arsenals whole debt bill right there and then. People over here still don''t have much of a clue about Manchester City, why? because they have NO history. don''t come on here slagging arsenal when the only reason your team is half good is because you have one of the richest guys in the world spending more on wages than he gains in income!!

Posted 14:55 2nd October 2010

Jay Farrell (Arsenal fan) says...

Paul you are making total sense Arsenal have never replaced David Seaman end of, why is wenger so reluctant to buy a world class goalkeeper he is just being stubborn. When we bought Richard Wright he made minor mistakes and wenger got rid of him sharpish look how many chances flappyhanski and almunia have had!!!! Its like wenger is trying to prove a point to everyone to say I was right to have faith in these keepers and we are all wrong!!! They are both bad news

Posted 14:40 2nd October 2010

Keith L (Arsenal fan) says...

I seriously think it will be about the day and the reaction of both teams to their respective first losses of the season.

Posted 14:36 2nd October 2010

John Mubita (Arsenal fan) says...

Ata Boy Merson! I have to say you got that right. Arsenal do need a miracle or do something impossible to win on Sunday! I really cannot see where the goals will be coming from- Chamakh, although he has scored some goals already will not score against Terry and Cech on Sunday. Fingers crossed Gooners, its not November yet so we might be in with a chance especially if it is a sunny Sunday!

Posted 14:20 2nd October 2010

Mick Ferrie (Arsenal fan) says...

Fabianski is very young for a keeper and he is constantly improving .He will be top draw in the end. Arsenals whole team is young and improving. The Chelsea side is old and fading. Tthe tide is turning - this game will show that. Arsenal to win 2-1

Posted 13:42 2nd October 2010

Dara Mac lochlainn (Arsenal fan) says...

Full respect for Paul, love watching you every Saturday! Now for the Big Match........I believe Arsenal will show their true worth tomorrow with an enthrawling 1-2 victory. Potential banana skin for Man Utd up @ Sunderland and what do ya know......Arsenal are right back in it, West Brom forgotten and the plaudits will come in abundance! We can talk about Goalkeepers all day but the fact is, we have what we have so let''s do our best with it. We are an amazingly talented football club so be proud of them, support them, and watch them take 3 points home tomorrow!

Posted 12:36 2nd October 2010

Tapani Kauppinen (Derby County fan) says...

It is so frustrating that you can almost never see Arsenal playing with full squad. Imagine Chelsea without Drogba, Malouda, Essien and Cole. And the rest playing against Arsenal with Van Persie, Fabregas, Walcott and Vermaelen. So frustrating..

Posted 12:07 2nd October 2010

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