Arsenal’s Fab keeper on the spot for Chelsea showdown
PUBLISHED: 21:10 30 September 2010 | UPDATED: 08:54 01 October 2010
ARSENE Wenger believes Lukasz Fabianski’s decisive performance in Belgrade on Tuesday night can be the turning point in the Polish goalkeeper’s Arsenal career.
The 25-year-old understudy to Manuel Almunia pulled off two superb late saves, one from Partizan striker Cleo’s penalty, as the Gunners maintained their 100 per cent winning record to stay top of their Champions League group.
And now Wenger is ready to keep Fabianski in the side for Sunday’s clash with Premier League leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
“Fabianski had a good game, we have seen the player tonight who we see in training. He had a faultless game. I know it is in him,” said Wenger, who has consistently defended the error-prone Pole despite him making a catalogue of horrendous errors last season.
“Hopefully that will give him the needed belief and confidence. I am confident he will come out as a great keeper, I have always said that.
“We have to keep confidence in him and he needs to gain experience from games like this,” added Wenger, who will not hesitate to play Fabianski at Chelsea if Almunia fails to recover from the elbow injury he sustained on Saturday.
“At the moment Almunia is injured, we will have to see how his injury goes but at the moment it is too early to say.”
Fabianski’s display was just one highlight of an impressive night in Serbia for the Gunners, who bounced back immediately from Saturday’s shock 3-2 defeat to West Bromwich Albion.
After Andrey Arshavin had fired them into an early lead from Jack Wilshere’s sublime flick, Partizan equalised from the penalty spot through Cleo following Denilson’s clumsy handball.
The Serbian champions briefly threatened to take control, but Arsenal reasserted their authority in the second half after Marko Jovanovic was sent off for bringing down Marouane Chamakh when the Moroccan striker was bearing down on goal.
Partizan keeper Vladimir Stojkovic saved Arshavin’s spot-kick, but the numerical advantage began to tell for Arsenal and with 20 minutes to go Chamakh headed home a Tomas Rosicky cross.
French defender Sebastien Squillaci then scored his first goal for the club with a powerful header from substitute Samir Nasri’s inviting ball.
That looked to be that, but Partizan, roared on by their vociferous support, kept on going and were awarded a second penalty after a Kieran Gibbs foul.
This time, however, Fabianski guessed correctly and made a superb save to his right to deny Cleo a second goal, and the Pole made another spectacular stop before the final whistle.
“For us it was important to win straight away after a big disappointment against West Brom,” said Wenger.
“It puts us in a good position confidence wise. Sunday [at Chelsea] is a big, big game for us. I believe we will go there with a desire to do extremely well.”
The Gunners boss also admitted that Tuesday’s game was nearly postponed because of the floodlight and power failure at Partizan’s stadium.
“I thought it would be terrible to go home and not play,” added the Frenchman. “I encouraged UEFA when they asked if I wanted to play with one corner off, I said yes.”
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