Wojciech Szczesny insists he is prepared to fight anyone for the number one jersey at Arsenal, for whom he would happily play for the rest of his career.
After experiencing some low points last season, the Poland international has been back to his best this term, showing just why he is rated as one of the best shot-stoppers in world football. He has played every one of the Gunners Premier League matches, and was also set to play all eight games in the UEFA Champions League but was suspended for the last-16 clash at Bayern Munich after being sent off during the first leg.
Despite the form of the 23-year-old, Arsene Wenger has been linked with a new goalkeeper ahead of the summer window. Iker Casillas, who has once more been overlooked by Real Madrid in favour of Diego Lopez this season, is thought to be a potential target, as is his fellow Spaniard Victor Valdes who will soon be out of contract at Barcelona.
However, showing the sort of confidence needed in a world-class number one, Szczesny insists he would quite happily battle anyone who wants to take his jersey from him. Indeed, such is he determined to continue between the posts at the Emirates Stadium, he would quite happily sign a new contract to stay for the remainder of his playing career.
“If they give me a contract to the end of my career, I’d sign it without any hesitation,” he told Polish newspaper Przeglad Sportowy. “I feel attached to the club and the coach. I see the future here. I’ll play at Arsenal as long as am wanted. I am not afraid to fight for number one with anyone: Lukasz Fabianski or Casillas. I am in the best form of my life.”
Szczesny will have to be at his best on Saturday afternoon, when the Gunners kick-off the Premier League weekend with a crucial trip to Chelsea. The Blues currently head the table by four points, but a win for Wenger’s side would cut this lead to just a single point and they also have a game in hand, against Swansea City on Tuesday evening.
With Manchester City and Liverpool also fighting for the title, it is set to be one of the closest races for some years. Mathieu Flamini, who rejoined Arsenal in the summer after a five-year stint in Italy with Milan, knows that every single point is now vital if he and his team-mates are going to help Arsenal become champions for the first time since 2004.
“In the title race, it’s very important not to drop any more points because it’s not a marathon now it’s a sprint,” he told the Mirror. “We have a few more games and we want to win every single one. It’s a great opportunity, everyone is waiting for Arsenal to win a title and everyone is talking around the club that Arsenal haven’t won a title for a while.
“It’s a great opportunity for us and I can assure everyone we will do everything to win it. The Premier League is very competitive, it’s a very open championship and that means every single point is important. I would love to win a title, it means so much to the players, to the manager and the fans. We believe we can do it, we will give everything to do it.”