Arsenal's goalkeeper crisis puts Lehmann in line for comeback
Tuesday 15 March 2011
Arsenal are set to re-sign their former goalkeeper Jens Lehmann after injury has left Arsène Wenger without Lukasz Fabianski and Wojciech Szczesny. The manager is seeking an experienced alternative to Lehmann's former rival Manuel Almunia.
Lehmann was set to work at Arsenal for six weeks as part of his coaching badges and, like many former players, he remains in contact with the club. While he has not played since retiring last summer, he is to join Arsenal's squad as Wenger seeks cover.
The manager admitted last week that he was searching for an "emergency keeper" and that he had someone in mind, after losing his two first-choice goalkeepers to injury. Fabianski was ruled out for the rest of the season after shoulder surgery last month. His Polish compatriot, Szczesny, dislocated his finger saving a Dani Alves free-kick against Barcelona in the Nou Camp last week and will be out for the next six weeks.
These injuries have brought Almunia back into the Arsenal side. The Spaniard came on as a substitute in Barcelona and played the final 71 minutes of the game. Wenger praised him afterwards for his performance, saying that he "did very well", and describing him as having "a very professional and very dignified attitude". Almunia then played in the FA Cup defeat against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday, only his fourth start of the calendar year.
Lehmann had five years at Arsenal, starting with the unbeaten "Invincibles" season of 2003/04, in which he played every League match. He also won the 2005 FA Cup at the club, Arsenal's last major trophy, saving from United's Paul Scholes in the deciding penalty shoot-out. Having lost his place to Almunia during 2007/08, he left at the end of the year and joined Stuttgart, where he played for two seasons before retiring last summer. Lehmann played 194 games for Arsenal and won 61 caps for Germany.
Wenger spoke warmly of Lehmann just last week, discussing his positive reaction to losing his place to Almunia, after the German was dropped in August 2007 following an error against Fulham. "When I took Lehmann out, who only made one mistake," Wenger said, "and put Almunia in, Lehmann came in the next day and fought even harder. That is what I believe our job is about."
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