By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger is convinced that Lukasz Fabianksi will be a great goalkeeper but he admits that defeat to Porto this week would have done him damage.
The Pole had a night to forget when he kept goal in the first leg of Arsenal's Champions League tie in Portugal two weeks ago, scoring an own goal before picking up a back-pass to concede a free-kick from which Porto secured a 2-1 win.
Manuel Almunia's return to fitness has kept Fabianski out of the first team ever since and he watched Tuesday's second leg from the bench. Arsenal started the game with their European dream hanging in the balance but ended it as emphatic 6-2 aggregate winners. And no one will be more relieved than Fabianski.
"I think the result on Tuesday night helped him to recover," said Wenger. "I think it would have had long-standing consequences for him had we gone out against Porto on Tuesday night. Mental consequences because he is a conscientious guy, very intelligent but as well sensitive.
"No [he is not too sensitive] but you can turn it to an advantage, because he can feel things and see things that others don't see. But as well when you have guilt it can be a disadvantage confidence-wise so I believe it was very important for the team to go through.
"When you look at him, and the team goes out, he could feel 'Ah, they charge [blame] me', even if it's not true."
Fabianski has shown flashes of his undoubted ability in his rare first-team outings but the focus has naturally fallen on the high-profile errors he made against Chelsea in last year's FA Cup Semi-Final and now Porto. But Wenger has championed the Polish keeper since he arrived at the Club in 2007 and has no doubt that Fabianski will eventually justify his faith in him.
"He is a top-class goalkeeper," declared Wenger. "I repeat that many times and you will see that one day, I am right.
"He is waiting [for his chance] but it's competition. When you turn up in the top-level competition, you have to perform. Football is a job where you always have to be ready because you never know when you will be called up.
"That's why it's difficult because it's tempting to think 'OK, I will not play, I feel sorry for myself'. But in my experience, the ones who make the career are the ones who are always ready. The competition is very tight."