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Wenger’s final day omission cost Szczęsny personal glory

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Szczęsny might have sacrificed the Golden Glove award for an FA Cup winners medal

Arsène Wenger replaced Arsenal ever-present goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny with Polish compatriot Łukasz Fabiański for their final game of the campaign against already relegated Norwich City.

Usually, such a swap would be understandable with an impending FA Cup final fast approaching. However, when you consider the decision cost Szczęsny potential record-breaking glory, and that he hasn’t featured in the FA Cup all season, it all feels a little odd.

Szczęsny was on course for a 17th clean-sheet this season – one more than Chelsea legend Petr Čech, enough for him to win the much-coveted Golden Glove award bestowed to the goalkeeper with the most Premiership shut-outs.

With his exclusion from the team however, he must share the award with the aforementioned Czech – a quite worthy achievement still, but surely not what the Pole numero uno would have preferred, given the choice.

This decision probably means that Szczęsny will feature for the Gunners in the FA Cup final this coming Saturday, meaning cup ever-present Fabiański will suffer demotion, and won’t get to experience the Wembley showpiece he has earned. Alternatively, it could mean he is giving Fabianski some crucial game time before his big day.

An added caveat is that Fabiański and Szczęsny play together at both club and international level and, therefore, with Fabiański no doubt dismayed by Szczęsny’s unjustified potential FA Cup inclusion, might disturb their personal relationship.

It is possible of course that Wojciech had suffered a knock or illness pre-match and therefore his exclusion was justified. It is also possible that Wenger offered him the chance of an FA Cup medal in exchange for the personal limelight. Szczęsny is, after-all, still the award winner – it is just that he must share the praise.

Either way, it was a peculiar change to Arsenal’s team-sheet on Sunday, and it must have been a very interesting conversation between the manager and both goalkeepers pre-game.

More interesting still is the possibility that Le Professeur might choose not to play Szczęsny in the cup final. This decision would incite numerous questions about the pair’s relationship behind the scenes heading into next season.

 

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