Some players are harder to replace than others, and Arsenal learned this the hard way with Jens Lehmann.
The veteran goalkeeper was already 38 years old when he returned to Borussia Dortmund in 2008, four years on from playing his part in the Invincibles season.
Arsenal have enjoyed some high moments from the 11 goalkeepers named in Premier League matchday squads since then (Deyan Iliev, having only made cup squads, misses out), but none have had the combination of impact and lasting power as the German. Nevertheless, some have done noticeably better than others…
Why did they sign him? A one-year loan from Fiorentina, during which time he played a grand total of [drumroll] zero minutes. Not even a League Cup or European run-out.
We hope his bizarre decision to take the No.2 shirt after moving to Sampdoria was meant as a barbed comment to Arsène Wenger.
The other Italian on this list doesn’t fare much better, despite him playing a whole 26 games for the club.
The longest-lasting memory of the keeper, now playing behind such luminaries as Brent Kallman and Michael Boxall at Minnesota United, is the moment he temporarily forgot how his body worked during a Champions League defeat to Olympiakos.
Still at the club, and yet to do anything of note in his two games, which somehow counts as an improvement on Mannone.
That’s right, Jens Lehmann’s return to Arsenal at the age of 41 counts as ‘post-Lehmann’ due to our flimsy grasp of language but firm grasp of linear time.
He played in the league, too, securing a 100% record in his second stint, and the mere idea of having Big Jens back in the squad was a boost to morale.
Yes, Fabiański has developed into one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, but he showed few signs of that during his time at Arsenal.
The Pole is best remembered for giving a stadium full of fans a collective coronary with some unconvincing goalkeeping during the 2014 FA Cup final which almost undid all the good work he did in the previous round’s penalty shoot-out.
It’s okay, though, he was still a kid then. What’s that, he was 29? Which means he’s now… oh.
Will likely go into the 2019-20 season as Arsenal’s outright second choice. At the age of 26. Having played a grand total of nine games for the club.
We couldn’t find any huge mistakes in those nine games, though, so maybe there’s time for the Argentine to take a step or two forward. Or, if his peers’ performances are anything to go by, two steps backwards. Here by default, essentially.
Is it fair to say Almunia’s standing among Arsenal goalkeepers is higher than when he was actually at the club? Yes. Is this revisionism warranted? Also yes.
Almunia was never as good as Lehmann, and probably shouldn’t have played as much as he did when the German was around, but he was a competent goalkeeper who learned from his mistakes while still at the club. Within the context of this list, that’s no mean feat.
Look, the concept of “a good goalkeeper” is one you should have left at the door long before this moment. If you’ve got this far without realising that then we don’t really know what to tell you.
Did Ospina make a habit of sabotaging his own team’s efforts? Yes. Did he spend as much time behind his own goal-line as in front of it? Almost certainly. Did he cost club team-mate a chance of playing at the World Cup by touching an indirect free-kick into his own net? You better believe it.
However, with Ospina in goal, Arsenal picked up a surprising number of points per game. 2.17 per Premier League appearance, to be precise. I know, it does sound wrong, but it isn’t.
Petr Čech’s move from Chelsea to Arsenal was simultaneously treated as an absolute steal and a waste of money but somehow ended up being neither. He has ended up being the 2010 World Cup of goalkeepers – high-profile, with plenty of hype, yet you can’t name more than two or three things that happened during his time at Arsenal, and one of those is music-related.
Largely unremarkable, and there’s every chance you’ll forget he was ever there when you try to name Arsenal keepers in a Sporcle quiz in 2029. By the standards of this list, that counts as ‘good’.
5 – Top five goalkeepers in terms of errors leading to goals in the 2017-18 Premier League:
6 – Petr Cech (Arsenal)
5 – Hugo Lloris (Spurs)
5 – Asmir Begovic (Bournemouth)
4 – Joe Hart (West Ham)
3 – Jonas Lössl (Huddersfield)
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 14, 2018
Racing into the top two on the strength of a) that save against Spurs and b) pulling off the ‘goalkeeper in short sleeves’ look. Has potential to claim the top spot, too, but for now we can’t look beyond…
Curse Arsène Wenger’s obsession with trivial matters like ‘health’ and ‘professionalism’.
Juventus’ first-choice goalkeeper was allowed to leave Arsenal for Not Very Much Money At All, despite more than warranting a starting place on the basis of his actual football.
We’ll just leave you with this…