Arsenal’s greatest ever goalkeeper
This is the beginning of a series of articles in which we will give you the fans the chance to decide your all time Arsenal 11. It is a really weighted question with a lot of contenders in certain positions. However, at the end of this series of articles, we will together have decided who makes Arsenal’s all time greatest 11.
Starting with the goalkeeper, there have been some shockers over the years. Viviano and Almunia to name just a couple. However, before them came some absolute giants. Here are the contenders:
The obvious shout of course. He joined Arsenal in 1990 and was a major contributing factor for some of Arsenal’s most successful ever seasons. He made 405 appearances for Arsenal across 13 years. During that time he won 3 league championships (1991, 1998, 2002), 4 FA Cups (1993, 1998, 2002, 2003), as well as a league cup and a European Cup Winners’ Cup. He was also a stalwart for the England side in that time, making 75 appearances for the Three Lions. He was a great leader on the pitch. His distribution was decent for his generation and he could command his box better than most. Let’s not pretend he was not an outrageous good shot stopper too. Over time people seem to have determined that Schmeichel was the superior goalkeeper and that Seaman was a great commander but could not make those quick reflex saves. These people are forgetting his mind-boggling reflex save against Sheffield United (when he was getting on a bit in age) which Peter Schmeichel at himself at the time described as “the best save I’ve ever seen”.
This was the guy tasked with taking over from Seaman, and in fairness he did a brilliant job of it in his 5 years at Arsenal. He can boast certain accolades that no other ‘keeper on this list can. Most notably; he was our invincible goalkeeper. Arsenal famously went the entirety of the 2003/04 season unbeaten. There’s no way that could ever be possible without an amazing goalkeeper between the sticks. He also brought Arsenal to a Champions League final in 2006 which earned him the UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year award. Unfortunately, his red card, albeit a controversial one, is perhaps what he is most remembered for during his years at Arsenal.
Prior to joining Arsenal, Jennings had a wonderful career at Spurs. Spurs were willing to let him go to Arsenal thinking he was nearing the end of his career. Little did they realise that he would go on to have 3 brilliant years and make 347 appearances for the Gunners. His time at Arsenal came when our squad wasn’t particularly close to challenging for a league title, especially once we lost Liam Brady in 1980. However, this takes nothing away from Jennings’ Arsenal career though. He led us to 3 successive Cup finals, winning one of them. The fact he could become an Arsenal legend and a Spurs one is borderline unprecedented and perhaps his most commendable achievement.
This contender is really winding the clocks back. Kelsey joined in 1949, but the reason why he gets onto the list is the fact that he was significantly ahead of his time. He was a very unorthodox ‘keeper at the time and was one of the first to consistently leave his penalty box to clear the ball and meet attackers. Rumour has it he would rub chewing gum on his gloves to improve his grip. Well whatever tricks he had up his sleeve, they seemed to work. He played 327 games for Arsenal during the 50’s, and despite not having the most impressive trophy collection, is still regarded as one of Arsenal’s best.
Now hear me out. Whilst others on this list can boast extremely long Arsenal careers, Leno admittedly is only in his 3rd season. But in that time he has consistently proven himself to be one of the best ‘keepers in the league. The types of saves he is able to make are simply jaw-dropping at times. His best for me was probably his magnificent double save in the North London Derby in his first season. He is also becoming a great ‘keeper with the ball at his feet, as Arteta expects him more and more to play out from the back and chip the ball over the high press. This is a requirement of a modern goalie, therefore it’s harsh to mark down some of the other names on this list. Nonetheless, this trait of his is certainly something to bear in mind.
Well there you have it. That’s the list. I know who I’d pick, but now it’s over to you.
Who do you think is Arsenal’s greatest ever goalkeeper?
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