How Arsenal can deny England an automatic World Cup spot

Szczesny Foreground

Gunners glovesmen both pushing Boruc in training with Poland.

The oft-muttered yet naive opinion that Arsene Wenger did little for the benefit of the England national football team was countered by the Frenchman himself when he acquired and developed the pace and usefulness of Theo Walcott, as well as overseeing the nurturing of academy graduates Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs.

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With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson Arsenal have, when all are fit, five players elibible for Roy Hodgson's Three Lions selections, however, the multi-cultural make-up of the Gunners squad, combined with a vast majority of them all being amongst the best in their respective positions for the country's they represent, has meant that two of Wenger's goalkeepers could deny England an automatic spot in next summer's World Cup, in Brazil.

Poland have a number of strong candidates for the goalkeeping role in the national team.

Southampton shot-stopper Artur Boruc, 33, has 55 international caps to date, Arsenal's first-choice 'keeper Wojciech Szczesny has 14, while Lukasz Fabianski has 21, but it is perhaps their individual ambitions for the number one jersey that could ensure a greater focus in training and a stand-out performance in Tuesday night, when they take on England in the concluding match-up of Group H.

'With some goalkeepers it changes pretty quickly,' Fabianski is quoted to have said by the official Arsenal website.

'One year ago Boruc wasn't in the team at all because of the fight he had with the coach. Then when they sacked the coach, he was immediately back in the team. Then some other guys lost their place, like the guy from the European Championship, Tyton, and now he is completely out of the team.

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'You also have Wojciech, who was number one for the European Championship and then got red carded in the opening game and from that moment he has not really played [regularly] in the national team. Me, I have not been with the national team for more than a year.'

The three goalkeepers in manager Waldemar Fornalik's latest squad are Boruc, Fabianski and Szczesny but it is Boruc who featured against Ukraine recently and it is Boruc who has kept an extraordinary five clean sheets in the Premier League so far this season.

'Even those who are not playing regularly, they have the quality to be in the national team,' said Fabianski. 'It is a really competitive group of goalkeepers and you have to work really hard. There are five or six of us who are on a good quality level.'

Poland will be buoyed by the presence of 16,000 of their fans when they take on England at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday evening.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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