Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Karl Hein refuses to give up in battle with Okonkwo

When Arthur Okonkwo was promoted to the first-team squad last month it seemed clear that he had won his battle with fellow goalkeeper Karl Hein.

The pair, who are both 19 years old, were named on the bench for the first-team on various occasions last season but it was Okonkwo who was given the number 33 shirt as well as a new long-term contract.

Hein’s future remains rather uncertain as he is reportedly into the final year of his contract, but, in an unexpected turn of events, he has seemingly edged back ahead of Okonkwo in the pecking order at Arsenal, at least temporarily.

Indeed, it was the Estonian who was named on the bench for Arsenal’s Premier League opener away to Brentford, with Okonkwo also travelling with the team but not being included in the matchday squad.

At present, with Alex Runarsson possibly leaving and another goalkeeper not yet signed, Hein is effectively Arsenal’s second-choice goalkeeper and it is possible that he could be on the bench against Chelsea next weekend.

Hein’s resurgence came after he performed considerably better than Okonkwo in pre-season. The latter is an excellent prospect but seemed rather nervous at times in Scotland, while Hein, in contrast, appeared considerably more composed, perhaps helped by the fact that he already possesses some experience of senior football having represented Estonia.

What happens now? Much will depend on if another goalkeeper is brought in. Then either Hein or Okonkwo can be third choice with the other going on loan. It is perhaps too much of a demand for one of them to be second choice for Arsenal right now.

There is also a concern that Hein and Okonkwo could spend a lot of time training and travelling with the first-team and therefore miss out on playing in U23 matches, which may affect their development slightly.

Furthermore, Arsenal already have several other goalkeepers competing for minutes at U23 level, with James Hillson, Ovie Ejeheri and Hubert Graczyk hoping for playing time.

Hein has a lot of potential but if Okonkwo can bounce back from a difficult pre-season then he has much to offer as well. Perhaps it was a little early for him to be thrown into a first-team environment, but his promotion has certainly helped to bring the best out of Hein.

Jeorge Bird is the author of www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

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The battle for the Arsenal #1 Jersey next season. Hein vs Okonkwo. I give Hein the slight edge, but both are real talents.


Dont be ridiculous.


Joking… Not joking…

Mikels Arteta

Could be this season


Not sure if you’re joking, but Hein actually is a real prospect. Good agility and reflexes for someone at 1.93m.

Scored at the Clock End

What a mess we are in.


So Arteta and Edu (the two stooges) promoted Okonkwo to the first team but have now replaced him with Hein because he was more crap than they realized before this summers preseason? Laughable.

Vaibhav Pandey

it can happen with young players and I see no fault in giving new contracts to players with potential. Okonkwo looked nervous but it can go away soon, best part is Hein got good motivation to perform, I hope we sign a no. 2 for this season and send Okonkwo to loan in championship and make Hein no.3 and giving him a new contract. Hein is sound potential as well, I would hate losing him for free next season.


Who was the last Estonian with us? A back up keeper too, was it Alex Manniger?


Mart Poom

Merlin’s Panini

Manninger is Austrian. He was pretty fun as a backup as I recall. He was extremely talented but had the odd rush of blood where he would burst out of his goal erratically.


He was extremely talented but had the odd rush of blood where he would burst out of his goal erratically.”

Not sure that sentence distinguishes Manninger all that much to be fair.


Manninger was class. He helped us on the way to the 98 double and had a decent career after leaving Arsenal. Overall, Alex was a very likeable, capable and ambitious guy at the club.


Manninger was brilliant filling in for Seaman in 98 and played a key role in that glorious double triumph, happy days!

Morrisey fan #1

Was it 11 clean sheets he had during a run in the first team?

Those were good times!


Simple, send Okonkwo on loan to get the experience he needs. Keep Hein as third choice and sign a new back up.

Disarmed Gunner

They should both give up. Since Arteta has proven you can be better than Leno and he’ll still sell you.

Vaibhav Pandey

Didn’t you read/know, it was Emi who wanted out more than Arsenal wanted to sell.

Mikels Arteta

Emi wanted first team football. Not that he wanted out of the club he’s been at for 10 years
We should have kept Emi and sold Leno

Alan Sunderland

Think the problem was there were no takers for leno.

Disarmed Gunner

The fact he wanted out makes me respect him even more. Knew his own value, appreciated he was unappreciated and left with his head held high. Unlike our manager who thinks he is wanted, sacrificed his supposed honesty and values all to fuel his vain ego drive.

Hakuna Matata

Aston villa received 3 from watford

Man Manny

Willian, Mari, Runnarson, Saliba, EMI Marrtinez.
I have lost faith in Arteta’s decision making concerning players.
I think Arsenal should be actively searching for his successor, and that of Edu as well.
I don’t know if any other EPL team have such as incompetent pair at the helm.

Corona X

Don’t forget Vinai! He’s the CEO and the one who lets this happen without taking action…

Diaby's Left Peg

Josh, Vinai, Edu and Arteta all essentially doing their jobs for the first time.


Hopefully they will be battling for the #1 job in 3 to 4 years.

Anders Limpar

I imagine we’ll wait to find out which of the two is the better player with the better prospects, then immediately flog him to Aston Villa and keep the other one.

Sir No Goals

I think we need to be signing a future number 1 before the end of the window, but if we can’t, give this Estonian a chance to battle it out with Leno. I remember when a young 4th choice keeper in Szczesny debuted and did alright.


He’s edged ahead of Leno too.

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