Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina did his best to dodge a question over whether its possible for him to build a friendship with Wojciech Szczesny earlier this week, but in truth his sidestep told the story of a man desperate to nail down the number one spot at the Emirates for the long-term.
Ospina has replaced Szczesny in 2015 and clearly impressed Wenger in six successive Premier League starts, to the point where he's a shoe-in to keep his place for tonight's Champions League last-16 showdown with Monaco.
Szczesny can't be happy with life on the bench which gives Wenger a difficult balancing act to manage for the rest of this season, between healthy competition for places and a rivalry which could disrupt team spirit if things turn sour.
Fight for number one spot is on
In an exclusive interview with the Evening Standard the Colombian stopper was quizzed on Szczesny and any hope of the pair becoming friends, replying: “Good question.
"Unfortunately for us goalkeepers, that’s just the way it is. The rest of the players have got more possibilities of playing. But we do maintain a good relationship and we have to in the training sessions because otherwise it becomes difficult for the team and for the coach."
“It is a healthy competition. In a team like Arsenal and at this level, you need to have very good goalkeepers like you have in all the major football teams. No1 and No2 goalkeepers really need to be ready to react very well. They have to be 100 per cent prepared and not prepared as and when but every day. You need to be that prepared and committed so you can continue to play.
“At the end of the day each of us is fighting to get that one spot. It is the coach that makes the final decision on who gets it so we do try to have a good relationship.”
Is Ospina the answer to Wenger's problems?
Ospina has been given an opportunity to convince Wenger he's the long-term answer to Arsenal's problems in between the sticks, with Szczesny possessing huge promise but failing to deliver the goods over the last 12 months.
The 26-year-old has finally recovered from persistent injury problems which blighted his star to to life in North London, but now the pressure is on to prove his worth.
A strong run between now and the end of the season could be enough to convince Wenger not to shop for a world-class goalkeeper this summer, but Ospina will have to at his shot-stopping best to achieve that goal.
Arsenal fans, do you think Ospina is good enough to be the club's number one goalkeeper? Do you prefer Szczesny or perhaps a summer signing from elsewhere? Let us know by having your say in the comment box below!
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