2012/13 English League Championship
It was certainly unexpected when Wenger spent £500,000 on a journeyman from Spain, who had been on loan at Albacete from Celta Vigo, to challenge the established Lehmann. It represented a rapid rise to fame for a player who counted Osasuna B, Cartagonova and Sabadell amongst his previous employers.
But if Almunia thought that a transfer to the Premier League would be a football utopia, he was to be proved quickly wrong as Lehmann did not take kindly to his arrival. The seeds of disharmony were sown when Almunia briefly enjoyed a run in the team in the second half of the 2004-05 season, although he would go on to reclaim his place on the bench and become very much a 'cup' goalkeeper, even appearing in the 2006 Champions League final defeat to Barcelona following a red card shown to the German.
Their feud would erupt into open warfare in the 2007-08 season when, after two high-profile errors by Lehmann at the start of the campaign. Almunia was finally granted No. 1 status. Lehmann said at one point: "To be sitting on the bench behind somebody who only started to play when he was 30 is not funny", while Almunia replied: "To have someone here who hates me is just amazing. I know he hates me." Almunia rose above the poisonous rivalry to have an impressive season, most notably saving a penalty from Robbie Keane in a 2-1 defeat of Spurs in December.
Lehmann departed in the summer and while Almunia's following two seasons would be pockmarked by superb displays - European nights against Manchester United in April 2009 and Barcelona 12 months later spring to mind - he produced a number of unconvincing performances to leave his long-term future in doubt. At the start of the 2009-10 pre-season, Wenger ominously said that Arsenal do not have a No. 1.
Strengths: Almunia has a good record at saving penalties and his distribution from the back is impressive. He is adept at dealing with crosses and is not afraid to assume responsibility.
Weaknesses: The Spaniard has seen errors creep into his game in the past couple of seasons and his saves to shots ratio does not compare favourably with his contemporaries.
Career high: Repelling wave after wave of Barcelona attacks in one of the most one-sided opening 20 minutes in Arsenal's history in April 2010. It was a miracle, engineered by Almunia, that Arsenal went into half-time at 0-0.
Career low: His unconvincing and failed attempt to save a shot from Kevin Phillips in the dying seconds of a game against Birmingham in March 2010. The result damaged Arsenal's title challenge and cemented his reputation for committing errors.
Style: Solid, unspectacular, athletic, a reliable goalkeeper.
Quotes: "I think he puts a lot of pressure on his shoulders. Too much, If you look well across Europe you see that goalkeeper is the most difficult job in the world today." Arsene Wenger, 2010.
Trivia: Almunia is a student of military history and a frequent visitor to London's Imperial War Museum. "I started to get interested when I saw Saving Private Ryan," he says.
ENGLISH LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP