So where do we start with Wojciech Szczesny? A hugely talented goalkeeper for the club, who lets himself down every so often whether that’s through mistakes on the football pitch or some poor personal choices.
Arsenal initially brought the young Pole over from Legia Warsaw in 2006. Szczesny was clearly impressing the Arsenal coaches and found himself promoted to the reserves in 2008. Despite having a setback of 5 months out after fracturing both forearms whilst weight training, he soon found himself making his debut in an Arsenal shirt. He kept a clean sheet in the 2-0 victory against West Bromwich Albion in a League Cup match in 2009.
The club had high hopes for Szczesny and to aid his development loaned him out to Brentford that same season. To say he had a good loan spell with Brentford would be an understatement. In fact, in 2015 Brentford fans voted him their keeper of the decade. Some accolade that, I am sure.
In the 2010/11 season young Wojciech was starting to put pressure on Arsenal number one and two keepers. Then with Lukasz Fabianski and Manuel Almunia both injured, Szczesny made his league debut against Manchester United, Arsenal losing 1-0. In January, and after consecutive games in which he kept a clean sheet, he had made the number one position his own. However, it was this season that we got to see his lapses in concentration. His error in the League Cup Final against Birmingham City proved a costly mistake. Major confusion between himself and Laurent Koscielny allowed Birmingham to score a late winner and the underdogs took the Cup back to the Midlands.
For the next few seasons Szczesny was Arsenal’s number one goalkeeper. He was still prone to making mistakes which eventually saw him eventually dropped from the team in the 2012/13 season, only to return again a month later after an injury to Fabianski.
The following season was more successful, apart from a sending off in the Champions League match and making “hand gestures” as he walked from the pitch. But, he finished the season as the Premier League “Golden Glove” winner, joint with Petr Cech of Chelsea. Both keepers had kept 16 clean sheets.
The 2014/15 was not a good one for the now Polish international. Having been at fault for two goals against Southampton, he was later caught smoking in dressing room and fined by the club and demoted to the bench. His place was taken by David Ospina. Szczesny did start in the FA Cup final against Aston Villa. The Gunners won the final, recording a 4-0 victory.
Having made 132 appearances for Arsenal, he was loaned out to Italian side Roma. The club felt that after signing Petr Cech from Chelsea, Szczesny’s playing time would be limited.
Szczesny had a good first season for Roma which was proven when he missed 6 weeks due to injury. Roma’s form had slumped in this period only for his return to change the teams form again, they dramatically improved. However, in true Wojciech style, he was dropped for one game after, you’ve guessed it, smoking again.
This season Arsenal have allowed Szczesny to stay on loan at Roma, and he is having another good season. Roma currently lie in second place 4 points behind leaders Juventus. What is impressive, is Szczesny’s 10 clean sheets in 23 matches.
At only 26, which as we know for a goal keeper is still young, time is still on his side. Szczesny may always drop the odd clanger and his weakness is definitely claiming crosses and knowing when to keep his mouth shut. But with Arsenal again rumoured to be on the lookout for a new keeper, especially after some mistakes from current number one Petr Cech, is the answer to Arsenal’s problems just 900 miles away in Rome?
One thing is for sure – he is a big character and after two years away playing in the Italian league, maybe this has matured him. When you look around at the other goal keepers who potentially are being looked at, to me Szczesny seems like a safest pair of hands of the lot.