Italian gets his big chance.
Arsene Wenger has admitted that Vito Mannone will be under a lot of pressure when he makes his UEFA Champions League debut on Wednesday evening.
The 21-year-old goalkeeper has made just one appearance for the Gunners but is set to play from the start against Standard Liege in Belgium.
Regular number one Manuel Almunia has not travelled with the rest of the squad due to a virus, while Polish understudy Lukasz Fabianski is still recovering from knee surgery.
Wenger hopes Mannone can handle the occasion and help Arsenal make a winning start to their Group H campaign.
“It is a big challenge for a young boy to come into a Champions League game with such a big pressure, especially away from home,” said Wenger.
“When you look at the stadium, it will be quite a difficult atmosphere.
“He’s only played one first-team game, but at least he’s played one where he’s played quite well. I’m confident in him.”
19-year-old Pole Wojciech Szczesny will provide cover for Mannone on the substitutes’ bench. (Sky Sports)
With Almunia and Fabianski both out I guess Arsene had little choice but to blood the young Italian in this Champions League group opener and in many ways Its as good a place as any for the youngster to prove what he is capable of.
The Gunners boss is never afraid to throw players in at the deep end and on this occasion it’s a forced decision but one that probably comes at the right time. Many have once again turned on Manuel Almunia following his average display at Eastlands and it seems that the Spaniard always gets the brunt of the blame without really getting the credit he deserves when he is playing well.
I am not too sure of the future Lukasz Fabianski has at the club given his decidedly mixed form for the club so this could Mannone’s chance to stake his claim as the stand in for Almunia. Something about Fabianski doesn’t feel right to me, he seems very much a player who relies on confidence to pull him through games and a keeper needs to be as solid mentally as he does in a footballing manner in order to have his mind right for a game. He has been found wanting in some of the big matches he has been selected for and I don’t see him being at the club for the long haul.
Hopefully Mannone will cope with the pressure tonight and this will be a good test for the lad.