Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes under-fire goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny will be key to his side’s hopes of progressing to the FA Cup final, with the out of favour Pole set to enjoy a rare start in Saturday’s semi-final with Reading.
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Szczesny has not played since the FA Cup quarter-final win at Manchester United, since when he has lost his place to Colombian stopper David Ospina. A number of poor performances, along with a high-profile smoking scandal have also left his Gunners future under severe doubt.
However, according to reports from Sky Sports, Wenger believes that Szczesny has done enough to earn a Wembley return this weekend, albeit against Championship opposition.
The Gunners will go into the semi-final as heavy favourites but will be desperate to ensure that they progress and secure a second successive FA Cup final. Last year’s win was their first piece of silverware in nine years and Wenger knows the importance of continuing that run.
Wenger told reporters: “I believe that before a game you prepare mentally and there is no special problem. I replaced Wojciech because he had a bad game. I still think he is a great goalkeeper and I want him as well to have the opportunity to show that.
“On Wednesday night, I watched PSG against Barcelona and they (Barcelona) played their goalkeeper number two (Marc-Andre ter Stegen) in the Champions League game. Why? Because you need to give them as well competition.”
“They know the rules. It is based on merit. If you have a disastrous game you don’t play in the next one, but as well the first priority is the quality of the competition. You are right (Ospina has done nothing wrong), but if Wojciech remained number one, Ospina would play on Saturday.
“Once you have the rule, based on the fact Wojciech had a good game against Manchester United and there is no special reason to drop him (now) for Saturday.”