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TF S4DK

Arsenal squad a bunch of fanboys?

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Vito Mannone could quite easily be keeping goal in the Championship this season instead of performing heroics for Arsenal.The Italian goalkeeper weighed up his options in the summer and was on the verge of a loan move before a knee injury sidelined Lukasz Fabianski. Suddenly Mannone was the understudy to Manuel Almunia and, before long, he was thrust into the first-team spotlight when the Spaniard picked up a chest infection.The rest is history. Mannone produced a stunning display as Arsenal beat Fulham 1-0 at Craven Cottage and impressed once more when Olympiacos visited Emirates Stadium in the Champions League. The Italian kept his place for Saturday's win against Blackburn but he admits that it could have all been so different.“In the summer, yes, we had a talk about a loan move,” Vito told the Official Matchday Programme. "The boss was quite happy for me to go somewhere and play, because as you can see now, I was ready to play games."Now things have changed, it’s a different situation, but in the summer I was looking forward to a loan move, to get some experience. But if you play five games in the Arsenal first team, that’s equivalent to the experience of about three months in the Championship."A couple of teams were lined up, but then Lukasz got injured and they told me to stay. It’s funny how things happen in football."Mannone's performance at Craven Cottage underlined the depth in Arsenal's goalkeeping ranks. So how did the Italian celebrate after his heroics in west London?“I just went with my family and shared the happiness with them," he said. "I watched the game again on TV that night, with my family, and we were all very happy. Really it’s difficult to explain what’s happening around me at the moment – it’s been crazy for the last few days so I’m just keeping my feet on the floor and work hard in training.“When I got back into the dressing room [after the Fulham game], all the players chanted my name. I was very happy. The best thing is when your team-mates are pleased and proud of you. One of the most important things for a goalkeeper is for the team to have confidence in you. If you do the right thing it’s important for them as well because they are nice and relaxed, they know I am there. I can sort out some problems for them and they can do the same for me."They are calling me Gigi [buffon, the Italian No 1],” he added. “It’s a very big compliment for me. Even in training now, when I make a save - I’m not Vito anymore!”
Theo Walcott was so pleased to wear the No 14 shirt in front of his hero Thierry Henry on Sunday, the England striker just had to get a personal momento. The 20-year-old made his first Arsenal appearance of the season in the 6-2 win over Blackburn Rovers at the weekend and even grabbed a morale-boosting goal himself. Watching from the stands was record goal-scorer Henry, Walcott's predecessor to the No 14 shirt. It added to an already special day. "It was brilliant seeing him today," said the England international. "When your hero is here watching [and you have] his No 14 shirt on, it is a fantastic feeling. "I got him to sign a 'Walcott 14' shirt so that's going on the wall next to the one he signed when I first joined."
Gattaso too...
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Must be mad being Theo though. That's like me scoring a goal in front of Dennis and getting him to sign my shirt.

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