Manuel Almunia was Arsene Wenger’s first signing after the 'Invincibles' season of 2003/04. The goalkeeper arrived at Highbury from Spanish side Celta Vigo in July 2004 and was initially Jens Lehmann’s understudy.
Almunia made his debut against Manchester City in the League Cup on October 27, 2004, and was an unused substitute as Arsenal beat Manchester United at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in the 2005 FA Cup final.
Manuel Almunia Profile
|Arsenal Career||2004 - 2012|
|Appearances||183 (181 starts, 2 as a sub)|
The Spaniard was again a substitute in the Champions League final a year later, replacing Robert Pires after Lehmann had been sent off. Arsenal led through Sol Campbell’s header but late goals from Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Belletti gave Barcelona a 2-1 victory at the Stade de France in Paris.
When Lehmann left at the start of the 2008/09 season, Almunia was given the No 1 shirt.
The development of Polish stoppers Lukasz Fabianski and Wojciech Szczesny meant that Almunia was in and out of the team and, following a loan spell at West Ham United, he joined Championship side Watford in July 2012 after leaving Arsenal.
In total, Almunia made 175 appearances for the Gunners, keeping 70 clean sheets.