As one of my colleagues wrote earlier, Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny made his 100th appearance for the Gunners in the 2-0 win over Fulham at the weekend.
The Poland international kept his 30th clean sheet for the Gunners against the Cottagers, which is not a bad record considering the Gunners have been less than solid at the back in previous seasons.
This season has seen a change in fortunes for Arsenal at the back. The Gunners have the best defensive record in the Premier League, conceding just 19 goals in their 22 top-flight outings this season.
A major part of that defensive record is the performance of Szczesny. Good defences tend to have trust in their keeper and it looks like the Gunners defence now trust the Pole to bail them out, if they are beaten.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes that Szczesny is maturing as a player. The veteran French boss told Arsenal Player: “Certainly a part of his improvement is mental because he’s more mature,”
“His decision-making is cleaner, sharper, quicker. He was always a very talented boy but because he’s intelligent he learns quickly from experience.
“I’m happy that I always gave him the confidence because he’s developing very well into a very strong goalkeeper and today certainly nobody would question that he’s one of the top five goalkeepers in the Premier League.”
Wenger gave the Pole his confidence, but he has never been short of confidence in his own ability. Even when he first started out Szczesny was a very confident guy and at times it has got him into trouble.
He often took unnecessary chances and overplayed when he did not have much to do. His concentration seemed to wander sometimes. That did lead to nervousness amongst the Gunners fans at times.
Although he is still prone to taking the odd unnecessary chance, he now seems far more reliable and stable. The risk taking will always be in his nature, because goalkeepers tend to be a strange breed of men and Szczesny is no exception.
Wojciech Szczesny has always had the potential to go on to be a world-class keeper. He has improved immensely this season and that shows in the 11 Premier League clean sheets he has kept. At 23 years-old he is still a rookie in keeper’s terms.
If he continues at his current rate of develop though, he could become one of the world’s best goalkeepers. Both Wenger and Szczesny himself are confident of the keeper’s ability and Arsenal is lucky to have a young goalkeeper with such ability and potential.
How much has Wojciech Szczesny improved this season?