x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Fabianski puts his hand up for a starting spot

The Polish goalkeeper will look to earn his position between Arsenal's posts as Wenger looks to renew his interest in Mark Schwarzer.

Arsene Wenger will renew his interest in Mark Schwarzer, the Fulham keeper, in January but, in the meantime, he faces a selection dilemma on Sunday over who should play in goal against Chelsea, the champions. 

Having failed to persuade Fulham to part company with Schwarzer, the experienced Australia international in the summer, the Arsenal manager is understood to be considering making an improved bid when the transfer window reopens at the turn of the year. 

Fulham will allow Schwarzer to leave this time as they are confident of luring Shay Given from Manchester City.

Wenger's failure to sign an established world-class goalkeeper in the summer has already cost them dear this season - Manuel Almunia made a series of mistakes against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday - and former players, such as Ian Wright, Paul Merson and Ray Parlour, have critisised the manager for failing to replace Jens Lehman when he left for Stuttgart in 2008. 

Wenger believes he has the long-term solution to the issue in Polish internationals, Lukasz Fabianksi, 25, and Wojciech Szczesny, 20, but he must decide whether to pitch Fabianski into the heat of the battle against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Following a series of high-profile mistakes, Fabianksi went someway to restoring his reputation with an impressive display against Partizan Belgrade in the Champions League on Tuesday night, capping an assured display with a penalty save. 

Almunia, the No 1, did not travel to Belgrade because of an elbow injury and Wenger will assess the extent of the Spaniard's injury before decided who to pick to play in goal against the Premier League's leading scorers on Sunday. 

One thing is for certain is that whoever starts in goal, will be undergo a searching examination at the hands of a Chelsea side who, with John Terry, Michael Essien, Alex and Didier Drogba in their ranks, are like to launch an aerial assault from set pieces.

Fabianksi claims is prepared for Sunday's match between the top two in the league. "I am ready to play against Chelsea - I was always ready so we will see," Fabianksi said. 

"I was never really bothered by all the things said - I was always trying to focus on my job and my work. That's what I was always doing and that why I am grounded. Overall, I am pleased with my performance. I am not talking about just saves but reading the game, coming for crosses or playing with my feet. Every aspect of goalkeeping is important for me, so I am pleased with my performance in general.

"We could not be sure what would happen if it went 3-2. Then they would have had four minutes left and they could just throw all their players up front and do everything possible to score a goal. But luckily I saved the penalty and the game was easier to finish." 

Chelsea are unlikely to have Frank Lampard back from injury in time to face the Gunners but Drogba is certain to play after missing the 2-0 win against Marseille on Tuesday through suspension.

"It was important for us to win against Marseille for the confidence," Drogba said. "Arsenal is a big team, they've been playing well at the beginning of the season but we're at home and have to do everything to win." 

sports@thenational.ae