Is Szczesny about to emulate Chelsea and Manchester United legends?

Szczesny Foreground

Arsenal's goalkeeper can win Golden Glove award with a further clean sheet on Sunday.

It has been widely reported that Wojciech Szczęsny could receive the prestigious Golden Glove award by keeping a clean-sheet away at already-relegated Norwich City on Saturday.

A discussion featuring much less, however, is the Polish stoppers development from a player widely regarded as a below-par goalkeeper just a season ago, to a goalkeeper rubbing shoulders with previous Golden Glove winner’s Cech, Hart, Reina and Edwin Van Der Saar.

To reach this point he will have amassed seventeen clean-sheets in thirty-eight league games this season. These figures are significant for a few reasons.

Firstly, he will have managed to complete a full season unscathed – the second Premiership season in which he has featured in every game. At twenty-four years of age, that is quite an accomplishment and may go some way to explaining his improvement: he is simply growing more experienced.

Secondly, seventeen will be the joint-lowest winning total since the awards conception ten terms ago – a total shared with three-time victor Joe Hart in 2011/12, and two-time winner Petr Čech in 2009/10.

This figure could be misinterpreted as negative whereas actually, when compared to the winning total every season, with the exception of Van Der Saar’s sensational 2008/09 season of twenty-one clean-sheets, the figure has generally decreased.

This could suggest that, as time goes by, it becomes tougher to keep out goals – a notion that, although slightly fanciful, adds further credence to Wojciech’s heroics.

  Clean SheetSavesPunchesConcededAppsMins
Szczesny 2011-12 13 84 27 1.29/ App 38 3,420
  Clean SheetSavesPunchesConcededAppsMins
Szczesny 2012-13 10 72 14 0.96/ App 25 2,250
  Clean SheetSavesPunchesConcededAppsMins
Szczesny 2013-14 16 111 27 1.11/ App 37 3,330

If we look at his statistics for the past three seasons, we can see this will be his highest clean-sheets total while also having conceded the fewest goals during a full season. His record of 0.96 goals conceded per game last season would suggest that, actually, he has been consistent for Arsenal.

Brazilian international stopper Júlio César was hotly-tipped to be making his way to Arsenal last summer – a move that would have no doubt have jeopardised Szczeny’s development and almost certainly have restricted him from competing for the seasonal award. Perhaps the speculation concerning his position was the motivation required to step into his best season to date?

If Szczęsny succeeds on Saturday he will be the first Pole to receive the honour joining an Englishman, a Spaniard, a Dutchman, and a Czech. He will also be the first Arsenal goalkeeper to be awarded.

Although prone to the occasional momentary lapse in concentration, the towering Warsaw player is a steady, ever-improving young goalkeeper that, if successful on Saturday, will thoroughly deserve his accolade.

I for one would love to see the young Arsenal goalkeeper further rewarded for his great season with further assurance that he will be the Gunner’s number one next season.

The presentation of such an award will challenge doubters to reconsider their opinions as, after-all, it takes quite some season to top the clean-sheets list in the Premier League.

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