Arsenal should have released Manuel Almunia a long time ago looks at Arsenal's decision to let goalkeeper Manuel Almunia leave The Emirates on a free transfer

By Share The Match
Wojciech Szczesny
Wojciech Szczesny started every Premier League game for Arsenal Photo: EA Sports, via Flickr

Wojciech Szczesny

Arsenal won’t miss Almunia

Arsenal supporters will welcome the news that the worst goalkeeper in the club’s recent history is departing The Emirates finally – it’s just a shame though its five years too late.

Unbelievably Spaniard Manuel Almunia played 175 games for Arsenal and even appeared as a substitute in the Champions League final defeat by Barcelona after the controversial sending off of Jens Lehmann.

He joined the club in 2005, and just two years later became Arsenal’s number one goalkeeper but his career was littered with high-profile errors.

There’s nothing more debilitating than battling the best teams in the league only to see your goalkeeper make a sloppy error.

And that’s exactly what the veteran Spaniard did on a regular basis – the only saving grace for Almunia was that his young deputy, Poland international Łukasz Fabiański, was just as bad if not worse – meaning he probably played 100 more games than he should have.

It’s not just Almunia’s release from the club that will have Arsenal supporters celebrating on Wednesday morning – some perennially poor youth team players have also finally been cut adrift.

The main name that springs to mind is Gavin Hoyte – the less talented and younger brother of Justin.

Gavin featured just once in the Premier League against Manchester City – Arsenal got hammered as a result and joining him on the departures list is another under-performing youngster Rhys Murphy.

Spurs were architects of their own downfall

For Spurs supporters who have bemoaned their luck, the unpleasant truth is that Tottenham Hotspur’s failure to qualify for the Champions League falls at the feet of those at White Hart Lane.

There’s no denying Chelsea were incredibly fortunate to win the Champions League and it is harsh that a team that plays well once – against Napoli at home – and gets battered by every decent team they faced somehow lifted the trophy.

But they are the rules and for all Tottenham’s complaints, it is quite clear that Spurs had both hands on an automatic place and threw it away.

At one stage they were 13 points clear of Arsenal, and when they went 2-0 up at The Emirates that looked game, set and match against a team woefully reliant on the performances of two or three players.

But Arsenal came back and after that Tottenham looked a shadow of their former selves.

Confidence is one of those great intangible and immeasurable elements in sport but whereas before the lower-half teams feared travelling to White Hart Lane, Spurs then lost that fear factor.

Teams are generally defined by their reaction to adversity and in that regard Harry Redknapp and his squad came up short.

Redknapp – who had already shipped out decent squad players in Vedran Ćorluka, Sébastien Bassong, Steven Pienaar and Roman Pavlyuchenko – became ever more stubborn in selecting the same starting line-up week after week when it was clear they were crying out for a change.

Obviously the distracting talk surrounding England did not help but let’s end talk that Spurs were robbed of a place – they did that all by themselves.

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