I was prepared for Rooney penalty, claims Szczesny
Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny believes his mind games with Wayne Rooney might have forced the Manchester United striker into missing his penalty during Monday night’s clash at Old Trafford.
Defender Gael Clichy conceded a 72nd minute spot-kick after he was adjudged to have handled in the area. But Rooney, who has not scored from open play since for United since March, carelessly smashed his attempt over the crossbar and into the Stretford End.
Premier League debutant Szczesny, who was impressive throughout Monday’s match despite the final result, claims he outwitted Rooney to force him into missing the penalty.
“I did prepare myself for a Rooney penalty before the game,” revealed the 20-year-old Szczesny. “I actually decided to try to delay him, show him my presence and hope for the best. Maybe my presence put him off and made him miss it.”
The young shot-stopper continued: “It’s obviously a mental battle between the goalkeeper and the striker, a psychological battle, so I tried him and stand off my line for as long as possible, until the referee put me on the line. Then I made myself big and he missed.
“People were congratulating me for the saves in the second half but I don’t think they were fantastic stops.”
Despite his assured performance at Old Trafford Szczesny admitted he was powerless to prevent Ji-Sung Park’s 42nd-minute winner.
“I felt the goal was pretty lucky,” he said. “I don’t think Park actually meant to head the ball. It just hit him on the head and went into the top corner.
He added: “With just a little bit more luck we could have got something out of the game and we’re still confident we are the top side in the Premier League.”
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