That a Premier League footballer has been caught smoking in the showers after a match shouldn’t be enough to end his career, but it is the latest in a series of incidents which must encourage Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to offload goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
The Poland international’s complete lack of professionalism after one of the worst individual performances of his career so far is, quite frankly, unacceptable.
But, again, this in itself is not a good enough reason for Arsenal to give up on the 24-year-old. The fact that he has failed to develop in the manner Wenger and the club’s supporters expected he would, however, surely is.
Szczesny not good enough
Szczesny, who was slapped with a £20,000 fine for smoking a cigarette after the Gunners’ 2-0 defeat to Southampton on New Year’s Day, is now in his fourth full season as Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper - but, unfortunately, still not at the level Arsenal need him to be in order to challenge for major honours.
List the names of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers and Szczesny’s wouldn’t feature inside the top five. Thibaut Courtois, Petr Cech David de Gea, Joe Hart and Hugo Lloris are all more reliable and consistent No. 1s, while it could even be argued that the likes of Asmir Begovic, Tim Krul and Tim Howard are better.
The two best goalkeepers in Arsenal’s recent history - David Seaman and Jens Lehmann - both produced big performances in the biggest matches. This subsequently made defenders in front of them more reliable. Having a top goalkeeper can make a world of difference.
Yes, Szczesny is still relatively young in goalkeeper terms, and there’s a chance he might eventually develop into a first-class number one. But these are all ifs, buts and maybes.
Szczesny has a tendency to make rash decisions, his concentrations levels are seriously suspect, and he has a nasty habit of conceding soft goals. Compare the Pole to De Gea, who is seven months younger and also in his fourth full season as a first-choice Premier League goalkeeper, and it’s clear to see that the Arsenal No. 1, for whatever reason, is not progressing at anywhere near the same rate.
Perhaps it’s telling that Arsenal managed to win the FA Cup last season without Szczesny in between the sticks. Wenger kept faith with Lukasz Fabianski throughout the competition and ended up lifting his first trophy for nine years.
Arsenal deserve better
Goalkeeper has been a problem position for Arsenal even since Lehmann left the club in 2008; the German’s loan spell with the Gunners during the 2010-11 campaign doesn’t really count as he only made one appearance.
Manuel Almunia wasn’t up to the job and neither is Szczesny, who certainly has a future with a decent European club - even one competing in the Champions League - but just not at the Emirates Stadium
Smoking in the showers like a naughty schoolboy after such a woeful individual display is merely the straw that broke the camel’s back. Arsenal Football Club not only deserve better - they need better.