Leyton Orient Preview: Szczesny Should Start

Most other Arsenal blogs will have written a match preview of today’s FA Cup tie against Leyton Orient; but here I’d like to focus on one particular team selection issue. It’s obvious that Arsene Wenger will rotate today, which is wise given the upcoming fixtures; namely a Wembley Cup Final and a rather important match at the Camp Nou.

It’s going to be a great experience for the dedicated and fantastic away support lucky enough to have gained enough credits to have obtained a ticket for a London derby that harks back to the old days. Small ground, so close to the pitch you’ll be able to smell the deep heat (do pro’s use this any more?), feverous atmosphere. What the FA Cup is all about. I can’t wait.

Like most Arsenal supporters, I’m still buzzing after Wednesday night, but I can’t help but feel that one man was short changed in the plaudit stakes due to Jack Wilshere’s masterful display.

Wojciech Szczesny provided the calm presence and confident vocal platform for the Arsenal defence; an assured performance not seen from an Arsenal goalkeeper in a big match for some time.

Followers of the Youth team and Reserves, or readers of the excellent Young Guns blog, have known about Szczesny for a while now. Having experienced a worthwhile loan spell at Brentford last season, in which he received rave reviews, Szczesny has taken his recent chance in the Arsenal first team with both hands and is now Arsenal’s number 1 (until Fabianski returns from injury at least).

He most definitely has the required ability, confidence and character to be Arsenal number 1 for years to come – if you’re not following Szczesny on Twitter, you must; he’s hilarious and it’s quite clear he doesn’t care much for media training after mocking Cashley Cole for his penalty miss yesterday (one of this blog’s moments of the season).

I hope that Wenger starts Szczesny against Leyton Orient today, rather than opting for Manuel Almunia as he did for the previous FA Cup tie against Huddersfield.

I see no point in playing Almunia, a keeper who is clearly now out of favour and has tested the last nerve of most Gooners. Also,at 20 years old, it’s not as if Szczesny needs a rest.

A Cup tie such as this can only aid in his development. I’m not one to criticise Wenger often but won’t agree with his selection policy in this instance if Almunia starts between the sticks at Brisbane Road.