'Almunia is for keeps'
Stewart Robson says Manuel Almunia is a better option than Shay Given or Mark Schwarzer.
Last Updated: 20/08/10 3:21pm
Former Arsenal captain Stewart Robson thinks Arsene Wenger should stick with goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, rather than buy Mark Schwarzer or Shay Given to replace him.
Wenger has been linked with moves for Fulham goalkeeper Schwarzer and Man City stopper Given as potential replacements for Alumina, who has been at Arsenal since 2004.
Almunia was criticised following David Ngog's opener for Liverpool against the Gunners in their opening-day draw at Anfield and Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson says Arsenal cannot win the league with Almunia in goal.
However Robson, who played for Arsenal from 1981-86, reckons Almunia is superior to any of the potential transfer targets being lined up.
"I don't see that Schwarzer, the player that everybody's talking about, is a better goalkeeper than Almunia," Robson told Sky Sports News.
"I think Almunia's a better goalkeeper than Schwarzer.
"Shay Given is a very good shot-stopper, but most of the criticism of Arsenal's goalkeepers is that they don't come for crosses or haven't been dominant in the air.
"Shay Given's not that goalkeeper. He's a very good goalkeeper, we all know that, but he's more of a shot-stopper than someone who's going to dominate his penalty area."
Wenger has several promising young goalkeepers in his squad already, including 25-year-old £ukasz Fabiañski, 22-year-old Vito Mannone and 20-year-old Wojciech Szczêsny.
But Robson says Almunia is still the best of the bunch.
"I think Arsenal can win the Premier League with Almunia in goal," Robson continued.
"He gets a lot of criticism, but I think he's unfairly treated. He was understudy to Jens Lehmann and had to wait a long time, but I don't think he's as bad as many Arsenal supporters are making out.
"I'm not sure Fabianski's good enough. People tell me he's going to be a great goalkeeper, but he's made so many mistakes in his short career at Arsenal that it will be very difficult to win the fans back over and win the press back over.
"Mannone had a good spell last year and saved Arsenal on a couple of occasions. He played brilliantly against Fulham, but he did make two high-profile mistakes.
"One against Birmingham, which didn't cost Arsenal, and one when Arsenal were 2-0 up against West Ham and he palmed a free-kick back into the path of Carlton Cole. It cost Arsenal two points on that occasion. He's probably got a bit to do. I don't think he'll play too many games for Arsenal.
"I still think Almunia is by far and away the best keeper Arsenal have got on their books.
Robson did suggest that Alumina needed a bit more protection from the Arsenal defence.
He says that Arsenal have strategic deficiencies when it comes to defending long balls and set plays - and he urged Wenger to rectify those problems.
Robson said: "I still think Arsenal can win the league, but they need to improve a couple of defensive frailties that they've got.
"One is when balls get played over the top and they play too high an offside line - and the other is when they're defending set plays.
"That's where they've let goals in over the last three or four years and I see in pre-season that they're still doing those same things.
"It happened again against Liverpool. There were a couple of situations in the first half where they tried to play too high an offside line, there was no pressure on the ball and the ball got played in and one ball could beat the whole of the back four.
"It's not just about buying players; you have to have a defensive strategy. Arsene Wenger has got a philosophy of how they play. They play good football, they can open up teams and they're as good as Spain or as Barcelona football-wise.
"But they're not as good as those teams defensively because they have a strategy about pressing the ball and showing teams out wide when they need to.
"I can't see where that's happening at Arsenal."