Szczesny or Ospina: Wenger faces goalkeeping dilemma for FA Cup final

Pulse Blogger Femi Hilekaan discusses Arsene Wenger's dilemma in picking the most suitable goalkeeper ior Arsenal's FA Cup final match against Aston Villa.

Ospina, Szczesny

Arsenal FC are through to the FA Cup final for the second consecutive season with their narrow victory over Reading, but a tougher test looms in the guise of a Tim Sherwood rejuvenated Aston Villa team.

The Villans have been a revitalized side under Sherwood and it’s fair to say that he has brought out the best in Christian Benteke that was under the spotlight when Aston Villa failed to score for lengthy periods.

It didn’t come easy as it has been in the past. After Alexis Sanchez had fired the Gunners to a lead before halftime, Reading drew level in the early stages of the second half. Subsequently, it was the usual heart to mouth stuff for the Arsenal fans, and when the game was destined for penalties as the neutrals may have hoped for, a howler from Royals goalkeeper Adam Federici was enough to send Arsenal to a record 19 FA Cup final appearances.

Yet it’s easy to point out that Reading were gifted the equalizer after a horrible mistake by second choice goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczesny. The Polish shot stopper lost his place in the first team after abhorrent incident at the St Mary’s Stadium in January when he was caught smoking in the dressing room, more dreadful, after a loss.

He was fined, demoted to the bench, and then replaced by a more experienced David Ospina. The Colombian international certainly appreciated the opportunity, amassing 26 saves and seven clean sheets so far, and has only conceded 10 goals in 14 appearances.

But where does Szczesny fit?

Arsene Wenger handed the 25-year old with the FA Cup duties, but lack of game time seem to be taking its toll on his confidence, and it was evident with a nervy display in Wembley on his birthday. The FA Cup final is a big occasion, and with such determination shown by Villa to dent any hopes of a trophy for Liverpool, they must not be taken for granted.

The manager must stick to his best possible XI to stand a chance of winning the trophy. Unfortunately, that could see Szczesny dropped for Ospina, which is frankly understandable. Though from a precedent behaviour, Wenger is an ardent believer in his own philosophy.

It was barely last year when Szczesny was in immense form and was tipped to be the next big thing. He was rested in the FA Cup games for Lukasz Fabianski. Fabianski was highly responsible for the Gunners 2014 FA Cup triumph. He was a hero particularly in the semi-final as his two saves in a penalty-shoot-out helped his team to the final, albeit Szczesny remained in good form in the weeks to the final, Wenger continued with Fabianski.

Such precedent could see Szczesny keep his place.

However, when you play Ospina, you have a stopper with so much confidence in what he does. Something every club needs in a Final.

Well, thank Heavens its Arsene Wenger’s headache, not mine, but I certainly hope that the team he fields on May 30, 2015 will get the job done, whether it’s Wojciech Szczesny in between the sticks, or the fans personal favourite, David Ospina.


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