The Pole has been in terrific form for the under-21's and while he had his moments before his injury some would still maintain he is better than current incumbent Wojciech Szczesny.
While Arsenal may not have earned a place in the quarter-finals they certainly did earn back some pride with a spirited but in the end fruitless performance against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.
Arsene Wenger finally plucked up the courage to drop two of the players that had caused him such difficulty in recent weeks. Firstly leaving captain Thomas Vermaelen on the bench must have been his biggest call but given the Belgian’s woeful recent form enlisting Laurent Koscielny ahead of him proved a masterful decision.
The Frenchman was man-of-the-match with a superb performance throughout that helped halt one of Europe’s most potent attacking forces in its tracks.
But he of course was not alone.
Wenger also decided to drop Wojciech Szczesny for his compatriot Lukasz Fabianski which considering the latter Pole’s 13 months out of action with ankle problems seemed a risky decision. Even if dropping Szczesny was in Wenger’s mind Vito Mannone seemed many peoples logical replacement.
However the recent form of Fabianski for Arsenal’s Under-21 outfit has certainly merited a recall.
He has been in superb form for the side where he is playing as an overage player while rehabilitating himself after over a year of injury hell. His penalty-save against West Brom recently was the culmination of such exquisite nick.
He showed that same form in the Allianz on Wednesday night.
Personally I prefer Fabianski to Szczesny. The current number one always strikes me as somebody who was an outfield player who could play in goal; it doesn’t seem like his dream position.
Fabianski is a goalkeeper through and through and proved it Wednesday.
His handling was superb, reactions looked in nick and at one-on-one situations he again showed his worth with a point-blank stop to deny Arjen Robben. His kicking looked ropey and that may come with extra playing time but his distribution from hand is very good. Like Tottenham stopper Hugo Lloris he is quick to look for the throw out wide; the only problem was Arsenal’s players did not seem to be on the same wavelength when it came to this facet of Fabianski’s game.
But it is also important to remember that this is a player playing for his job. His contract expires in the summer and a decent end to the season could save his Arsenal career; if not he will certainly have put himself in the shop window for any teams across Europe looking for a new stopper.
A deal to Terek Grozny in Russia never materialised for the Pole in February and that may in the end be to Arsenal’s gain; as last night Fabianski looked more like Poland’s number one keeper than his out-of-form compatriot.
What did you make of Fabianski’s performance?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald