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Szczęsny in August 2011
|Full name||Wojciech Tomasz Szczęsny|
|Date of birth||18 April 1990|
|Place of birth||Warsaw, Poland|
|Height||1.96 m (6 ft 5 in)|
|2009–2010||→ Brentford (loan)||28||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 14:54, 4 December 2013 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).
His composure, agility, and command of his area led to his establishment as Arsenal's first choice when he was 20. After winning his place in the first team, Szczęsny expressed his desire to continue as Arsenal's first choice goalkeeper for the rest of his career.
Before turning to football, Szczęsny first learned ballroom dancing and later excelled at the javelin throw. His father, Maciej, is a former Polish international goalkeeper, and his elder brother, Jan, also plays as a goalkeeper, currently for Gwardia Warsaw in the seventh tier of the Polish league, the club where their father once played.
Szczęsny trained at Agrykola Warsaw as a young player; soon, Legia Warsaw's goalkeeping coach, Krzysztof Dowhań, was so impressed with the young keeper, he allowed him to take part in a training camp with Legia's first team at the age of 15, joining them afterwards.
In 2006, Szczęsny joined the Arsenal youth set-up, progressing to the reserve team during the 2008–09 season. In November 2008, he lost his balance while lifting a heavy weight and both his forearms were fractured, causing him to miss five months. Szczęsny appeared on the first team bench for the first time during the Premier League match against Stoke City on 24 May 2009.
At the start of the 2009–10 season, Szczęsny was promoted to the senior squad and given the number 53. He received a call up for the Champions League match against Standard Liège on 16 September 2009, staying on the bench. On 22 September 2009, Szczęsny made his first team debut in the Football League Cup, keeping a clean sheet against West Bromwich Albion. In December 2009, Arsène Wenger revealed that he and the rest of Arsenal's coaching staff had high hopes for Szczęsny, saying, "We have identified Wojciech as a future great, great goalkeeper." In January 2010, Wenger said: "I really believe in him that he will one day be Arsenal's number one. He has all the qualities you want from a goalkeeper."
On 20 November 2009, Szczęsny joined League One team Brentford on a month's loan. He saved a second-half penalty in his second match, a 1–0 loss to Wycombe Wanderers. Szczęsny completed his fifth game for Brentford on 12 December 2009, where he made a number of saves to keep out Leeds United and was given the Man of the Match award. On 22 December, Arsenal agreed to extend the loan for a second month until 17 January 2010, and then until 31 January. Finally, it was extended until 31 May. In April, Brentford manager Andy Scott said: "His performances suggest that he would not be out of place in the Championship or even the Premier League. It has reached the stage where when he lets in a goal we wonder why he hasn't saved it." One year later after Scott sacking as a Brentford manager, Szczęsny criticized the club of sacking Scott on Twitter stating "“What a joke! Andy Scott sacked?! He is a fantastic manager and Brentford will pay the price. They were struggling in League Two when AS took over! He is the only reason why Brentford is in League One.”
On 27 October 2010, Szczęsny made his second appearance for Arsenal in the League Cup, keeping a clean sheet against Newcastle United at St James' Park and stopping numerous attempts from Newcastle players. He signed a new long-term contract on 11 November 2010, thanking his goalkeeping coach Josh Phelan and his father Maciej Szczęsny (who was also a goalkeeper for the Polish national team), for helping him progress in his breakthrough season. Szczęsny made his Premier League debut in the 1–0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford on 13 December 2010, deputising for Łukasz Fabiański and Manuel Almunia, who both missed the match through injury. On 8 January 2011, he started the FA Cup third-round match against Leeds United. The following weekend, Szczęsny kept his first league clean sheet in a 3–0 win over West Ham United at Upton Park.
Following Szczęsny's form after playing consecutive Premier League matches, Wenger confirmed that Szczęsny would remain Arsenal's first choice goalkeeper, stating "he's done nothing for me to take him out." On 16 February, Szczęsny made his Champions League debut against Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium. The game finished 2–1 for Arsenal with Szczęsny making a number of saves. On 27 February, Szczęsny let in a late Birmingham City winner in the League Cup Final. In the 89th minute, a header caused confusion between Szczęsny and defender Laurent Koscielny where the latter pulled out of a clearance at the last minute causing the former to lose control of the ball, which rolled right into the path of Birmingham player Obafemi Martins, who converted from near the penalty spot.
Szczęsny played a half in each of Arsenal's pre-season games on their tour of Malaysia and China. Szczęsny was assigned the number 13 jersey, formerly worn by Alexander Hleb, then Jens Lehmann on his second spell at the club. During 2011–12, he became Arsenal's first-choice goalkeeper, playing every minute of the team's Premier League matches. On 24 August, Szczęsny made a vital penalty save in the 59th minute of play against Antonio Di Natale in the second leg of the Champions League qualifying round. Arsenal were tied 1–1 (2–1 on aggregate) against Udinese and Szczęsny's penalty save proved vital in securing Arsenal a spot in the lucrative group stage of the competition for the 14th straight season. Arsenal went on to win the game 2–1 (3–1 on aggregate) with goals coming from Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott. On 28 August, he played in the 8–2 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford which turned out to be Arsenal's heaviest ever defeat in the Premier League and the first time they conceded eight goals for over 115 years. On 26 February 2012, Szczęsny finished on the winning side in a North London derby for the first time, as Arsenal came from 0–2 down to win 5–2 at home to Tottenham Hotspur. On 3 March 2012, Szczęsny made a number of important saves and blocked an early penalty to help Arsenal win against Liverpool at Anfield.
Following the release of Manuel Almunia, Szczęsny was given the vacated number 1 shirt. After a couple of months out with injury, Szczęsny made his return in the 5–2 win against Tottenham Hotspur.
On 13 March 2013, Szczęsny was dropped from the Arsenal team to play Bayern München in the Champions League. In Arsenal's next Premier League match against Swansea City, Szczęsny returned to the Arsenal squad but was named only as a substitute, with Łukasz Fabiański selected to start in goal by Arsène Wenger.
On 20 April 2013, Szczęsny returned to the team in a Premier League match at home to Everton due to a rib injury sustained by Fabiański. In his first two matches back in the Arsenal goal, he kept consecutive clean sheets against Everton and Fulham respectively.
Szczęsny had a testing time in the opening fixture of the 2013–14 Premier League season, as Arsenal lost 1–3 to Aston Villa. During the match, he conceded a penalty after tripping Gabriel Agbonlahor. Despite the disappointment, Szczęsny responded well by keeping three clean sheets in Arsenal's following four matches. He also made two crucial saves to help preserve Arsenal's 1–0 lead away to Crystal Palace in October, as well as keeping two consecutive clean sheets in vital wins over Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. In a November 2013 match against Manchester United, Szczęsny received lengthy treatment following a head-to-head injury with Phil Jones, but finished the game after Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger allowed him to continue. Wenger said he would have substituted for Szczęsny if instructed by the team doctor, but added, "No, nobody told me anything about him," when asked if medical staff had cleared the keeper to play. Tottenham Hotspur coach André Villas-Boas was heavily criticised the previous week for keeping concussed keeper Hugo Lloris in a match against Everton.
On 16 November 2013, Arsenal announced that Szczęsny had signed a new long-term contract with the club. His excellent form continued throughout November, a month in which he conceded just one goal and kept five clean sheets in six matches. He also recorded his 50th clean sheet for Arsenal on 26 November, in a Champions League match against Olympique de Marseille.
Szczęsny played for Poland's U-21 team and started in three 2011 European Championship qualifying matches. He was also placed on stand-by for the Polish national team by manager Leo Beenhakker for the team's World Cup qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Slovenia in early September 2009. However, since none of Poland's top three goalkeepers dropped out, he was not called up and instead played the U-21 qualifiers against Spain and Finland. He has a total of six caps for the U-21 squad.
In October 2009, new manager Franciszek Smuda sent Szczęsny his first call up to the full national side, for the friendly matches against Romania and Canada. Szczęsny made his debut versus Canada on 18 November, coming on as a 46th minute substitute for Tomasz Kuszczak. He earned his second cap and his first full match in a February 2011 friendly against Norway.
Szczęsny had a strong performance against the Germany national team on 6 September 2011. The final result of the match was a 2–2 draw, however Szczęsny made eight critical saves that kept Poland from conceding any more goals. His performance in this match earned him praise from former German international goalkeeper, Oliver Kahn. He was sent off in Poland's opening game against Greece in UEFA Euro 2012. In the second half of the match Szczęsny fouled Dimitris Salpingidis in order to prevent him from scoring a second goal for Greece. The foul occurred in the box causing Szczęsny to miss the next match against Russia, and costing Poland a penalty which was saved by Przemysław Tytoń in a 1–1 draw. Therefore, Tytoń became the first goalkeeper in history of the European Championships to save a penalty after coming on a substitute. Szczęsny failed to play again for the rest of Euro 2012 as Tytoń played the rest of the group stage as Poland went out finishing bottom of Group A with two points.
- As of 26 November 2013
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|Brentford (loan)||2009–10||League One||28||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||28||0|
- As of 19 November 2013
|National team||Year||Apps||Goals||Clean sheets|
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