Arsenal star Wojciech Szczesny has revealed that there is little love lost between him and fellow Gunners goalkeeper David Ospina, as the two compete for Arsene Wenger’s No.1 jersey.
The London Evening Standard today carries quotes from Szczesny which paint a rather peculiar picture with regards to his relationship with the main rival for his position. The Polish stopper has been Arsenal’s undisputed first-choice between the sticks for the past year, but the arrival of the Colombia international Ospina means that he has a credible challenger for his position.
Wenger made the decision to hire a new ‘keeper after former No.2 Lukas Fabianski departed for Swansea in the summer, leaving him with only Szczesny as a recognised option in goal. However, whilst the 24-year-old has started all of Arsenal’s Premier League matches so far this campaign, he’s all too aware that Ospina, who enjoyed an impressive World Cup this summer, is vying to take his spot.
Szczesny comments on Ospina
“I feel confident of being No.1 but I know I can’t let myself play a few bad games,” he said.
“I know Ospina’s ambitions don’t end at sitting on the bench and clapping his hands while watching me play.”
Szczesny’s rival was signed from Nice with a view to giving Wenger an alternative option should his usual ‘keeper falter in form and, whereas Emmanuel Viviano and the aforementioned Fabianski weren’t really given a chance to oust the Poland international last term, the likelihood is that Ospina probably will.
At any rate it’s a situation Szczesny is preparing to combat, and the former Legia Warsaw man was clear in his admission that he felt no empathy towards his rival for being stuck on the bench.
'He's not my friend'
“He is a nice guy. In a sporting sense, he is a suitable player at a suitable club,” Szczesny said.
“But it’s easier for me just in one aspect: I do not feel sorry for him. I do not think ‘he’s my friend’ as I thought about Fabian [Fabianski]. I was convinced Lukasz deserved to play but not at my expense.”
Though it’s a ruthless stance to take one can hardly begrudge Szczesny for being overly protective when it comes to his first-team berth at the Emirates. His time at Arsenal has attracted criticism from a number of quarters, and many feel his is the one of the only positions Wenger needs to strengthen if the Gunners are to be able to compete with the biggest teams in Europe.
During the summer the Arsenal boss bolstered their attacking options with the acquisitions of Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez, as well as shoring up the back-line by purchasing the young Calum Chambers and France international Mathieu Debuchy. With Ospina being 26-years-old he’s hardly going to be ready to play second fiddle to Szczesny, and so a battle for the No.1 shirt could well rage for the entirety of the season.
Arsenal’s early form this campaign has been somewhat indifferent, with the Gunners having struggled past Besiktas in their Champions League playoff match and drawn two of their opening three Premier League fixtures.