Belfast Telegraph

Wenger tells Arsenal keepers to show who’s best

Arsene Wenger has challenged Manuel Almunia to prove he is still Arsenal number one.

The Spaniard is scheduled to return to full training with the squad next week following an elbow problem, with understudy Lukasz Fabianski set to be in goal again at Everton on Sunday.

The Pole has impressed since standing in after Almunia was sidelined at the end of September, redeeming himself in part for the high-profile error against Newcastle with a man-of-the-match display in the 2-0 midweek win at Wolves.

Yesterday, Arsenal announced 20-year-old Wojciech Szczesny had signed a new long-term deal. Wenger, though, insisted he offered no guarantees of first-team football to any player — with selection based purely on performance.

“Of course Almunia has a future at the club. He has been out for a long time, but he must come back and shows the performances in training and his quality,” the Arsenal manager said. “You can never stop a player from playing.”

Wenger rejected suggestions he would allow Almunia to leave during January.

“At the moment what we are focused on is to win together with the squad we chose at the start of the season,” he said.

“We are on a train which wants to go to the terminal station — and that means nobody moves out when the train is moving.”

Wenger believes Szczesny, who impressed in the 4-0 Carling Cup win at Newcastle, has all the ability to one day take over as Arsenal's first choice — but again challenged the young Pole to continue to produce consistent performances.

“I don't give assurance to anybody for game time,” the Gunners boss insisted.

“I just told Wojciech he has the quality to be an Arsenal goalkeeper and that is down to him to show that.”

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