Wenger: 'Exceptional' Arsenal star is ahead of schedule

Szczesny Foreground

Arsene Wenger has been talking up Wojciech Szczesny, describing him as ahead of schedule.

When Wojciech Szczesny is criticised, Arsene Wenger will always point to his age as a mitigating factor.

The facts are that the Polish goalkeeper is holding his own in the Premier League against top forwards, and in comparisons with the likes of Petr Cech, despite being just 23-years-old.

Along with contemporary David de Gea, the stopper is unusual in breaking through at a top club so early, in an era when goalkeepers can sustain success even into their 40s, Edwin van der Sar and Brad Friedel recent examples.

Wenger bit the bullet on Szczesny after growing frustrated with Manuel Almunia, and after the Pole had earned rave reviews on loan at Brentford.

Never afraid to throw a young player in, Wenger gave Szczesny his big chance at Old Trafford of all places, coming away with real credit despite a 1-0 defeat.

Speaking to Arsenal magazine, Wenger said: "Wojciech had exceptional talent and I played him very early, so today he’s at an age where most goalkeepers have not started yet, but he already has big experience.

He was questioned at some stage and he had a debut that was not very easy, but he has matured earlier than expected because we gave him the chance earlier than expected.

"That’s why I think he’s ahead of schedule for a normal goalkeeper. It’s down to his mental strength and his exceptional talent as well."

Wenger is clear, in that he believes Szczesny's troubles he faces now, will stand him in good stead for the future. He was dropped for a period last season due to 'mental fatigue', but reclaimed his place in the side.

Despite calls for the manager to part with money to sign Victor Valdes or Julio Cesar last summer, Wenger stuck by his man, and has done throughout the season.

Still prone to the odd moment of rashness, Szczesny has some improving to do, particularly around not allowing his head to drop as it did during the defeat to Chelsea. Many have pointed to a lack of maturity, surrounding the whole 'Selfie at the Lane' celebration, which perhaps is fair comment, but illustrative of the fact he still has some growing up to do.

Wenger is right, that Arsenal are fortunate to have a goalkeeper learning all the time, and by time he reaches his peak years into his 30s, they may just be able to boast that he is the best in the world.

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch