Szczesny a big plus for Wenger

Published Dec. 14, 2010 1:17 p.m. EST

Arsene Wenger has predicted a big future for 20-year-old goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, and he remains optimistic on Arsenal's title chances.

Wenger plunged the Pole into the white-hot atmosphere at Manchester United on Monday night.

Szczesny was given his opportunity despite making only three League Cup appearances previously.

Although he was beaten by Park Ji-sung's first-half winner as the Gunners crashed 1-0, after a difficult start, the youngster soon got used to his new surroundings.


One second-half save to deny Anderson was particularly impressive and Szczesny showed enough ability to suggest that he might one day provide an answer to Wenger's long-standing goalkeeping problems.

"The goalkeeper performed well," said Wenger. "He was a bit nervous in his kicking but he didn't make any mistakes with his hands.

"It was a big game. But in this job you do not look at the size of the game. You look at the quality of the player.

"Every big goalkeeper started at 18 or 19. I saw (Edwin) Van der Sar play in big games when he was 18."

It was some consolation for Wenger, who watched his team slip to their fifth defeat of the season after failing to capitalise on a dominance of possession.

Wenger was gracious enough to praise United's outstanding defensive effort. But he was very critical of the surface his side had to perform on.

"If I ask you do you want a good pitch or a bad one, what do you say?" he said.

"They made technical mistakes as well because the pitch is not good enough to play good football. It is bouncy and slippery."

As United have dropped only two points at home so far this term in their 16-match unbeaten run, it is clearly not inconveniencing them too much.

However, although his side surrendered top spot and now trail Monday night's opponents by a couple of points, having played a game more, Wenger is refusing to write his side off just yet.

"It is a big frustration and disappointment but I don't know how big a blow it is to our title chances," he said.

"What is important is that we bounce back in our next game. "Overall, on what I have seen there is no reason not to believe.

"We know we can play better offensively and actually, we looked quite solid."