Arsene Wenger has clarified his stance of picking David Ospina and dropping Wojciech Szczesny as a move that has nothing to do with the smoking incident, and instead as a decision that was taken keeping in mind Szczesny’s poor form.
After Arsenal’s loss against Southampton on New Year’s day, a defeat that many blamed on Szczesny’s poor showing in the nets, the goalkeeper had got into further trouble in the locker room after being caught puffing away on a cigarette, in obvious frustration at the loss. The rulebooks, however, do not allow such behavior and the goalkeeper was forced to apologize for the incident. A fine amounting to £20,000 was levied too, apart from the criticism that came his way from various quarters.
Though Wenger was understandably furious over the incident, he maintained that the decision to drop Szczesny from the Gunners’ game with Stoke was only based on the keeper’s poor form, and was in no way related to it. “Was the smoking incident the reason? No. Honestly, no,” Wenger said clearly, reiterating the fact that his decision had a lot more to do with the goalkeeper’s form than him smoking. The manager even declined to comment on Ospina’s position in the team saying, “Will Ospina keep his place? I don’t know, I haven’t made a decision yet,” insisted Wenger. “I made a decision for today’s game. Szczesny is our No. 1, he is competing with Ospina and (Emiliano) Martinez and that’s our job, we have to accept that.”
On the other hand, Szczesny’s father seemed to see nothing wrong with his boy’s performance and was among the few who took up for the goalkeeper’s performance in a game that saw Southampton making mincemeat out of the Arsenal defense. Maciej Szczesny even denied the possibility of his son smoking in the showers saying, “I heard he smokes from time to time, but he is not that stupid to smoke at the shower after the match.” Szczesny senior went on to criticize the Arsenal defense lineup saying, “He made a mistake for the first Southampton goal, but please look at the Arsenal defence – how these guys are playing is a disaster, but nobody pays any attention,” while pointing out Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker’s errors. He had special words for Mertesacker and said the defender “showed the agility of a rhinoceros”. The goalkeeper’s father even called out the Arsenal staff for not doing their job. “Someone should support Wojciech, but the coaching staff at Arsenal are not doing that. Meanwhile the entire defence is an embarrassment. It is up to the people who train him. Wojciech should be at the higher level right now,” he said.
Szczesny was understandably unhappy at being dropped and was caught sulking in his coat’s hood when his team was playing Stoke with Ospina in the nets. Will the Pole win back his position in the nets for the Gunners? Or will he pay a hefty price for his mistakes, both on the pitch and off it?
Featured image via sport.oranews.tv