By Nick Teale

Arsène Wenger says goalkeeper is the hardest position on the pitch, and Manuel Almunia adds to it by putting too much pressure on himself.

The Spaniard came in for criticism following last weekend's 3-1 defeat to Manchester United. The visitors' opening goal of the game went down as an own goal against the 32-year-old after he diverted Nani's cross into the back of the net.

Wenger recently said that he would keep faith with Almunia for the trip to Chelsea and has defended his keeper, stating that the position of goalkeeper is the toughest in football.

"If you look across Europe you will see that goalkeeping may be the most difficult job because everything is quick," he said.

"In England it is even harder. The difference is the goalkeeper is always in the negative publicity. If a striker misses two chances and scores two, he is a hero. If a goalkeeper has a fantastic game and makes one mistake, he is a villain.

"They are under massive pressure because of that fear to make one mistake that they know can kill their team and the game. They know it is maybe the most pressurised job in football.

"I think he [Almunia] puts a lot of pressure on his shoulders, too much."

The manager added that a nervous backline, not just a nervous goalkeeper, can impact on the rest of the team.

"I believe as well the defender has the same problem," he said. "When you feel a defender is nervous it spreads as well. If he kicks the ball into the stand instead of clearing it five metres to a midfielder, the midfielder thinks 'what is happening here'. It spreads through the team."

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6 Feb 2010