7 Highs (and Lows) From Wojciech Szczesny’s Arsenal Career

Wojciech Szczesny
<> at Singapore American School on July 16, 2015 in Singapore.

Juventus have officially announced signing goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny from Arsenal for a fee of $13 million. The Polish international spent the last two years on loan at Roma, following his 181 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions.

So let’s take a look back at Szczesny’s days in North London, and count down the seven highs, and lows, of his time in an Arsenal shirt.

Goodbye and Good Luck, Wojciech Szczesny

7. Debut (High)

After joining Hale End in 2006, Szczesny had to wait almost three years to make his competitive debut. His opportunity arose on September 22, 2009, during the League Cup Third Round against West Bromwich Albion.

The Baggies were the better team early in the game before Jerome Thomas got sent off for shoving Jack Wilshere, and Wojciech had to make two good saves. Eventually, Arsenal broke down their opponents and ended up winning the game 2-0.

His debut couldn’t really have gone any better after all a keeper gets paid to keep the ball out of the net. Although he didn’t make another appearance that season, Arsene Wenger told the media, “I really believe in him that he will one day be Arsenal’s number one. He has all the qualities you want from a goalkeeper”.

As we know now those words were prophetic, at least for a while.

6. Smoking in the Boy’s Room (Low)

Entering 2015 Arsenal were in fifth place in the league, although level with fourth-place Southampton on points. So, on New Year’s Day that year when the two teams met at Saint Mary’s, it felt like a must-win game.

Wojciech Szczesny gave up goals at either side of halftime, first to Sadio Mane then to Dusan Tadic, as the Gunners left on the wrong side of a 2-0 match.

Even worse was the fact that the Pole almost gifted the Saints both goals; first by coming off his line when he shouldn’t have, then by allowing a soft rebound. The loss left Arsenal 13 points adrift from Chelsea, three points off fourth place, and even worse, they dropped below Spurs in the standings.

But, for Szczesny anyway, things still got worse!

Frustrated by his performance, he sulked off to the showers after the game and started smoking a cigarette. Arsenal fined him $27,000 for the incident, and Arsene Wenger benched him for the rest of the League campaign.

5. Arsenal 2-1 Barcelona (High)

In typical fashion, Arsenal drew Barcelona in the last 16 of the 2010-2011 Champions League. About two months before that, with both Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski injured, Szczesny made his League debut (1-0 loss at Old Trafford) but impressed enough to become the first choice keeper.

Despite allowing a goal in the first half, to David Villa, the Arsenal shot-stopper made six saves on the night. The Catalans’ lead lasted until the 78′ when Robin Van Persie equalized before Andrei Arshavin netted the winner just six minutes later.

Barcelona eventually went through after winning the return leg 3-1, but it was a memorable Champions League debut for Wojciech Szczesny, as well as the Arsenal faithful.

4. Losing the Carling Cup (Low)

Just eleven days after the memorable victory over Lionel Messi & Co., Wojciech Szczesny started the League Cup (Carling Cup at the time) against Birmingham City.

No one really gave Birmingham a shot in hell to win, but they improbably took the lead after Arsenal failed to cope with a free kick in the first half. Robin Van Persie, as he often did that season, bailed his teammates out with a tying goal not long after.

Despite making a few good saves throughout the ninety minutes, Szczesny combined with Laurent Koscielny to gift a goal in the dying embers of the game.

A long free kick from Birmingham found Nikola Zigic’s head, who then flicked it on towards goal. Wojciech seemed to have a clear line of sight to make the save, but Koscielny distracted his keeper by failing to clear the ball, and Szczesny bobbled it right into the path of Obafemi Martins.

The attacker scored easily, meaning that Arsenal’s trophy drought would extend even longer.

3. 2014 Golden Glove (High)

The 2013-2014 season started slowly for the Gunners, losing their opening game against Aston Villa 3-1, with Szczesny giving away a penalty. However, he then recorded three consecutive shutouts in the next three games.

October 2013 saw three more clean sheets, against Crystal Palace, Liverpool, and Borussia Dortmund. November of that year was perhaps his best month in an Arsenal jersey, as he allowed only one goal in six games, claiming five shutouts.

By the end of the season, Wojciech amassed a total of 16 clean sheets in the Premier League, earning him the honor of the Golden Glove. He had to share with his soon-to-be teammate, Petr Cech, who likewise recorded 16 shutouts for his club at the time.

The Gunners also won their first piece of silverware since the 2005 FA Cup when they beat Hull City in the 2014 FA Cup finals, but Szczesny only made the bench in that game.

2. Conceding Eight Goals (Lowest of the Lows)

Wojciech Szczesny was the undisputed number one at Arsenal for the 2011-2012 season, and he played every single minute during the League campaign that year.

On August 24th, the team won their Champions League qualification match against Udinese 2-1, to combine with their 1-0 victory in the first leg, sending Arsenal into their 14th consecutive CL Group stage.

Just four days later the Gunners traveled to Old Trafford for a League game versus Manchester United. It was a day to forget.

The Red Devils scored first in the 22′ through future Gunner Danny Welbeck and added two more before halftime. Theo Walcott did get one back just before the break, but a five-goal onslaught in the final 45 was too much for the Gunners to overcome.

By the final whistle, Szczesny had let eight goals by, leading to the infamous 8-2 scoreline which haunts Gooners to this day.

1. Winning the FA Cup (Highest of the Highs)

Arsenal did win the 2014 FA Cup, but Szczesny was left on the bench in favor of Cup keeper Lukasz Fabianski. One year later it was Wojciech who was playing second fiddle to David Ospina, meaning he would start that year’s final against Aston Villa.

Unlike the final versus Hull, which went to extra time before Arsenal emerged 3-2 victors, the Gunners dominated the full ninety minutes.

Theo Walcott, Per Mertesacker, Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez all scored for Arsenal in a four-goal performance. The Villans only took two shots all game long, but neither found the net, meaning Szczesny didn’t need to make a save.

Despite his lack of involvement, he at least made the starting lineup that year to help win the record 12th FA Cup for Arsenal.

Just two months later Arsene Wenger signed Petr Cech from Chelsea, and sent Wojciech Szczesny on back-to-back loan spells at Roma, meaning the 2015 FA Cup Final was his last game in an Arsenal shirt.

Not a bad way to round off a player’s career at a club.

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