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Wenger faith in Szczesny paying off

19 Oct 2013 13:16:52

Wenger faith in Szczesny paying off

Manager Arsene Wenger was always confident Wojciech Szczesny would prove to be Arsenal's number one - even if he had to drop the Poland goalkeeper to help keep him moving in the right direction.

Szczesny produced an impressive display at Wembley on Tuesday night when he stood in for the injured Artur Boruc, despite being beaten twice as England secured a 2-0 victory which clinched their place at the 2014 World Cup.

The 23-year-old has never been short on confidence, but went through a difficult spell last season which saw him dropped for the Champions League tie at Bayern Munich and benched in favour of compatriot Lukasz Fabianski before eventually being recalled over the run-in.

It was a move which incurred the wrath of Szczesny's father Maciej, himself a former Poland international goalkeeper, who claimed his son was being made a scapegoat for the team's shortcomings - and subsequently resulted in a public apology from the Arsenal player to Wenger and the club.

Wenger, though, maintains he never lost sight of Szczesny's long-term position, having seen the goalkeeper progress after joining the club's academy from hometown side Legia Warsaw in 2006 and a loan spell at Brentford.

"I was always convinced that Szczesny was to make it," the Arsenal manager said.

"I didn't see the game on Tuesday because I watched the French game. I just saw (updates on my phone) every two minutes that Szczesny had made another save, so he was very good.

"People forget that at 23, it is like being 18 for an outfield player. At 23, Szczesny had played two Premier League seasons, one where we finished third and last year where we made 73 points and finished fourth. You would think he can only go up."

Szczesny's appearance at Wembley was only his second for Poland since being sent off in the opening match of Euro 2012, when he then lost his place to Przemyslaw Tyton.

Wenger, though, feels the way the goalkeeper has recovered his form for both club and country is confirmation of his character, which was tested soon after his arrival at Arsenal following five months out after fracturing both his forearms when lifting weights.

"I think he questioned himself, especially after the European Championships in Poland where it was a massive disappointment for him and I think it affected his belief. He matured through disappointments like we all do," Wenger added.

"I believe every big player has to go through that in his career, and what may decide his career is how he comes out of that.

"For me, he came out of it in the way I wanted, it took him a while, but he came back stronger.

"I took him out of the team last year and when he came back in the team since he has been consistent."


PA

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