Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Fabianski relishing Blues test

Lukasz Fabianski

Lukasz Fabianski claims he is "ready for Chelsea" after answering his critics with a fine display for Arsenal in the heat of Champions League battle against Partizan Belgrade.

The 25-year-old - who had been nicknamed 'Flappyhandski' by some Gunners fans following a string of blunders - repaid the faith of manager Arsene Wenger with two late saves, one from a penalty, as Arsenal maintained their 100% start to Champions League Group H with a hard-earned 3-1 victory in Serbia.

Looking towards Sunday's trip to Stamford Bridge, Fabianski declared: "I am ready to play against Chelsea. I was always ready, so we will see. I was never really bothered by all the things said. I was always trying to focus on my job and my work. That is what I was always doing and that why I am grounded."

Tuesday night's victory was the team's first European away win for more than a year and Fabianski could be set to keep his place in goal this weekend.

Regular number one Manuel Almunia, himself under the spotlight after a below-par display in the shock home Barclays Premier League defeat to West Brom last weekend, is again doubtful for Sunday's trip to Stamford Bridge because of an elbow injury.

Fabianski has been behind Almunia in the Arsenal ranks since arriving from Legia Warsaw during May 2007.

Yet despite a number of high-profile errors - including in the 2009 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea on a birthday to forget at Wembley, away to Porto in the Champions League knock-out stage, and last week when allowing Robbie Keane's shot to squirm under his arms in the Carling Cup win at arch-rivals Tottenham - Wenger always backed the young Pole.

Indeed, the Gunners boss wore a broad smile after claiming the real Fabianski finally showed up at Stadion FK Partisan. Fabianski, though, remains focused on the job at hand.

"Overall, I am pleased with my performance," said the Pole, who also had to deal with a summer of speculation as Arsenal looked to bring in veteran Australian Mark Schwarzer from Fulham.

"I am not talking about just saves, but reading the game, coming for crosses or playing with my feet. Every aspect of goalkeeping is important for me, so I am pleased with my performance in general."

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