In Manuel Almunia's early days at Arsenal I never thought that he had the potential to become Arsenal's number one.
Jens Lehmann stood before him and I felt that Almunia was a solid replacement for the German if he was ever needed.
Last season Almunia replaced Lehmann as number one choice and although I still preferred Jens to Manuel, the Spaniard become increasingly at home between the posts.
Almunia was consistent and I wonder how much of a part Lehmann had in that. Almunia had to keep on his toes because Lehmann was a world-class keeper ready to replace him at any time.
This season Almunia doesn't have too much competition because despite how good Fabianski is, it seems Wenger feels Fabianski isn't ready to play week in, week out.
Almunia has become complacent and I believe his performance level's have dipped as a result.
There is no doubt in my mind that Almunia is a good goalkeeper but I don't think he is a great one. He needs to be pushed to be at the top of his game, like last season, but he isn't getting the competition.
Without being harsh, if I categorized goalkeepers throughout Europe into ratings or for example a league format, I'd have Almunia as Championship level.
Premiership-Buffon, Cech, Casillas etc
Blue Square Premier-Gomes
The levels of Buffon, Cech and Casillas are extremely high and I doubt that Almunia could reach those heights.
However, I feel that Almunia could reach the performances of last season again if he was challenged for his place more.
Perhaps Arsene Wenger needs to have more belief in Fabianski and give him a run in the side. He kept a clean sheet against Cardiff and he is Poland's number one choice. Almunia is probably about Spain's fourth or even fifth choice.
If Almunia began to believe he wasn't guaranteed his place every week then we may see the Manuel of last season who kept a world-class player out of the side.
Until then, I think that we may have seen the best of Manuel already.
Keep it Goonerish..........