Attention returns to domestic football, the Premier League clash with Chelsea on Sunday looming on the horizon. Didier Drogba is being hailed by his teammates as their lucky charm, the record books show he enjoys playing Arsenal, seemingly able to score at will irrespective of the defence which faces him. A little different this time for the Ivorian as he will not have rubbed shoulders with Squillaci or Koscielny, a stern test of how well the pair have settled into English football awaits.
Disconcertingly for Chelsea, Lukasz Fabianski had a good game on Tuesday in Belgrade, seemingly replicating his training ground form into a match scenario, Arsene feeling vindicated (or relieved, depending upon your view of the Pole) that his goalkeeper for the night proved his critics wrong on this occasion. A single match does not make a career – although it can quite easily destroy one – and the moodswings of the media have been startling in the aftermath of the Champions League.
Suddenly, Fabianski is a hero, not far short of a world-beater in their eyes, twenty four hours after being told that he was as much use as a chocolate teapot. Little wonder that he told the official site he takes no notice of his critics. You would have thought that the media would be a little more wary of upsetting a man who learned English by reading The Godfather. A few ideas in dealing with his enemies will no doubt have sprung into his mind in recent months.
Manuel Almunia is apparently not going to be fit a few games, the Conspiracy Theorists – or 5Live listeners as we know them better – wonder if history is repeating itself with the Spaniard being usurped from the starting line-up in much the same way he found himself as Arsenal’s Number One. Jens Lehmann made two errors for soft goals in his last season and despite not doing much wrong otherwise, he was out. Almunia had little reputation before taking over, the parallels between then and now are uncanny.
Fabianski is getting support from his teammates. The manner of abuse from the ‘terraces’ that the Pole receives highlights the unity in the squad, a mentality of standing and falling together, something Wenger has been looking to foster (or fester if you bemoan the lack of beer swilling, chainsmoking good ole ‘English characters’ in the dressing room). Jack Wilshere indicated that the squad are not unaware of the feelings towards those who are the last line of the defence:
It’s been hard for our ‘keepers at the moment and that was a great reponse from him. He made a good save at the end as well. Fair play to him.
Of course, Fabianski is not going to be able to dismiss the errors which have previously occurred, nor is he going to forget them either. Every interview with the player suggests that he is aware of his weaknesses and strives to correct them. Over time, he may do so and prove to be a good goalkeeper for the club. Szczesny certainly thinks Fabianski is the best at Arsenal at the moment, although an element of modesty may have precluded him from saying that he thought he was top dog.
Like Almunia, Fabianski does not have the luxury of time. He is only going to be remembered for his latest mistake, such has been the level of performance in the first XI. Consistency of performance will put those into the mists of time. He has faced his demons in Europe and conquered them successfully. This Sunday offers him the opportunity to conquer Premier League and FA Cup demons. He has to succeed.