By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger believes Manuel Almunia is as good as any goalkeeper in the Premier League.

The Spaniard established himself as Arsenal's No 1 last season and has gone from strength to strength this term. On Saturday, he will look to extend a run of five consecutive clean sheets when Fulham visit Emirates Stadium in the Premier League.

Almunia was a relative unknown when he arrived in North London in July 2004 but he has shown patience and determination to wait for his chance and climb up the pecking order. Wenger is often linked with a move for a new goalkeeper but the Frenchman would not swap his No 1 for Petr Cech, Edwin van der Sar, Shay Given or anyone.

“Yes, I think [he is as good as them]. Because you can only say if you keep clean sheets you cannot do much better," said Wenger. 

“He was not ready when he came here but he worked very hard, has great physical potential, learnt a lot with Jens Lehmann – he toughened him up, Lehmann.

“He does not get as much credit as he deserves. Then again, it’s only down to his performances, and, if they last, it will happen.

“He had a good season and had maybe one difficult game, against Tottenham, and the fans are less forgiving for a game like that, than for any other game.

“I rate him very highly. He has a great attitude and he’s technically very good and physically very strong as well.

"I think we have two world-class goalkeepers, [Lukasz] Fabianski and him."

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27 Feb 2009