Arsene Wenger says he was always sure Wojciech Szczesny had what it takes to become number 1 at Arsenal, despite dropping him last season.
The Polish international was dumped for compatriot Lukasz Fabianski after some indifferent, rather than abysmal, performances, but since winning his place back has shown the potential that so convinces his manager.
He played a crucial part in the run-in last season, with a series of important stops, and this season looks more confident and dominant behind a solid Gunners defence.
There was talk that Arsenal would target a high profile keeper in the summer, but Wenger says, “The speculation didn’t come from me. I was always convinced that Szczesny would make it.
“He was a bit kamikaze when he played at youth level but he also made impressive saves. You need that kind of character to be a good goalkeeper. People also forget that he is 23 years old, which is like being 18 for an outfield player.
“He questioned himself, especially after the European Championship, where it was a massive disappointment for him and it affected his belief.
“But he has matured through disappointments like we all do. I believe that every big player has to go through that. It took him a while. I took him out of the team last season but since he came back, he has been consistent.”
Sometimes there’s nothing like a short, sharp shock to get a player focused again, and with Fabianski and Italian Emiliano Viviano waiting for their chance, Szczesny knows there’s no room for complacency.