Three things Szczesny would have done differently v West Brom last season
Arsenal number one Wojciech Szczesny recently spoke about how being dropped from the first team taught him a lesson or two last season, and that he is now backing up his potential in the 2013-14 season.
Last season, as the undisputed number one keeper while Lukasz Fabianski was out injured, the Pole got complacent. He lost his place in the Arsenal team and Poland side with a series of uninspiring performances, but yesterday against West Brom was arguably one of the best he has ever put in whilst wearing an Arsenal shirt.
Here are three moments that would have been different if this game was played last year, when Szczesny’s cocksure attitude was letting down his obvious talents.
When Berahino smashed his deflected effort at goal the Pole looked beaten.
Last season it would have been one of those where he would either stand and watch it go past, or hesitate while he pondered if he had a chance of getting it, to the point when his movement was too late and the ball nestled in the back of the net.
Not yesterday, he immediately sprung to his right hand side, and fingertip clawed it out of the turf - it was a stunning save.
I lost count of the amount of times the young stopper came charging out of his goal last term, in fact he did it in that 2012-13 carry-on match against Aston Villa on the opening day of this new campaign.
Yesterday Nicolas Anelka got played in down the left and Szczesny took a couple of steps forward, as old habits dying hard had not yet been killed off.
But he stopped, back-pedalled and did what he should always do.
You can actually see him on the highlights look over his right shoulder to find the post. He then positions his body so that the near-post is covered, and in the frog position ready to spring to his left.
With the angle narrowed, Anelka bends the ball wide. The striker is lambasted while the keeper gets no credit for one of the more effective secret arts in his possession.
The powerful strike from Billy Jones was a classic example of last season v this season.
Last season the custodian would have tried in vain to hold it - spilling it into oncoming enemy traffic.
Yesterday he got two big fists on the ball and sent it out to the wing - straight out of the textbook.
All in all, the added competition and being dropped from the first-team has checked the Polish stoppers well-renowned ego at just the right spot - between confidence and arrogance.
Yesterday was another fine example of the improvements he has made to his game over the past few months - improvements Wenger is now reaping the benefits of.
How much do you think Wojciech Szczesny has improved?
image: © wonker