March 30, 2013
Wenger has faith in under-fire Szczesny
Team Stat Comparison
|Goals for *||2.5||1.1|
|Goals against *||1.2||2.1|
|Last 5 home||W-D-D-W-W||L-D-D-L-L|
|Last 5 away||W-W-W-W-W||L-W-L-L-L|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Arsenal | Reading|
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny should be very proud of already having made 100 first-team appearances - and recalled even legendary number one David Seaman had his "blips''.
The Poland stopper has not featured for the last two matches before the international break, dropped for Lukasz Fabianski against Bayern Munich and then watching on from the bench at Swansea, decisions which brought outspoken comments from his father.
The 22-year-old moved quickly to distance himself from that direct criticism of Wenger, insisting he was happy to fight for his place, having come through the Arsenal youth system after joining from Legia Warsaw in 2006.
Wenger has every confidence in Szczesny's long-term ability.
"That (100 appearances) is a huge credit to him, something absolutely fantastic and shows he has a great future,'' Wenger said in an interview with Arsenal Player.
"What is happening to him at the moment is just a normal process of any career - we had (Jens) Lehmann, (David) Seaman, they had their blips and their periods where they were less good, even when they were more experienced than Wojciech.''
Wenger must decide whether to recall Szczesny for the visit of relegation-battlers Reading, but has drawn a line under the recent selection row.
"I haven't spoken to him (about his father's comments), but I believe he responded very well. There is a not a lot more to say,'' the Gunners boss told a news conference.
"We are in a competitive world, he has played 100 games for this club and at his age that is absolutely fantastic.
"For the rest, we have ups and downs in our form and we have to fight against that, that is what he said, basically.
"Wojciech has a great future. He is a very young goalkeeper. You do not find very many goalkeepers at his age who have the experience he has already, that is why I believe he has a great future, but he lives in a world where competition exists.''
The Gunners will be without England duo Jack Wilshere (ankle) and Theo Walcott (hip/thigh).
Midfielder Abou Diaby is also absent after being ruled out for nine months with anterior cruciate ligament damage in his left knee.
Left-back Kieran Gibbs will be assessed after being laid low by a virus, but striker Lukas Podolski (ankle) and right-back Bacary Sagna (knee) should be available again.
Meanwhile, former Arsenal goalkeeper Stuart Taylor is hoping to get the chance to shut-out his old team when Reading continue their relegation fight.
Taylor, 32, came through the youth ranks at Highbury, and made enough first-team appearances to claim a championship winners' medal in 2001/2002 and also was on the bench for the FA Cup final win over Southampton at Wembley.
However, after finding Lehmann and Manuel Almunia ahead of him, Taylor moved on to Aston Villa in 2005, where he would also see opportunities limited behind Scott Carson, Brad Friedel and then Brad Guzan.
Following a loan spell at Cardiff and a move to Manchester City, where his only appearance was in a 2010 FA Cup tie against Scunthorpe, Taylor ended up signing a one-year deal with the Royals.
Injuries to both first-choice Adam Federici and deputy Alex McCarthy meant Taylor has started the last three league games and he would relish the opportunity to face his old side in what will be new manager Nigel Adkins' first match in charge.
"I have never actually played against Arsenal. It would be a great experience to go back there - it is a great club, who I have very fond memories of,'' Taylor said in an interview with www.readingfc.co.uk.
"It was a great place to be a player. The fans were always great there - and to play with some of the players that I did, it was a real honour.
"They had a number of really world-class experienced players there at the time, unbelievable players all of them, and, as he still does, Arsene Wenger started to throw in the youngsters in alongside them.
"Arsene Wenger gave me my chance and I will always be indebted to him for that.
"Arsenal are going through a bit of a change at the moment, but some of the players they have coming through are fantastic.
"A year or two down the line I think you will see these young players and the team as a whole become stronger.
"When a couple of those young players have a bit more experience under their belts, that is when Arsenal will be a real force.''
New Royals manager Nigel Adkins will have striker Pavel Pogrebnyak available again after a three-match suspension, while attacking midfielder Jimmy Kebe continues to battle against a groin problem.
Forward Jason Roberts (hip) remains sidelined.