The Importance of Being Fabianski
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 28 January 2019 at 8:00am
Written by : @JHerbert2818
2018 was the year when West Ham finally went big in the transfer window. With close to £100 million spent, and our club record transfer fee broken twice within the space of a month, a more low-key arrival was the signing of goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski from relegated Swansea City at a cut-price deal of around £8 million. All through pre-season, Hammers fans debated as to who would be the number one goalkeeper at the club, with Swansea’s defensive record causing some fans to question the quality of our new arrival. Nearly six months later and there is no debate to be had – Fabianski has been a revelation in goal for us this season. As of writing this piece, he currently boasts the highest number of saves in the Premier League this season (86), which could be seen as more of an indictment of our defence than anything else. Nevertheless, if you look beyond the stats, any West Ham fan will be able to tell you how crucial he has been to our team this season. What makes Lukasz so good?
Penalty Box Commander.
This aspect of his game has been so refreshing to West Ham fans and is a huge strength to Fabianski’s game. Lukasz is confident at handling and dealing with both crosses and corners into the box. With the exception of the Brighton game, he has been supreme at an aspect of the game where previous goalkeepers (Adrian being one) have often looked nervous and indecisive. A small criticism could be his tendency to punch the ball rather than catch it, but the most important thing in the penalty area is his decision making, which is usually very good. He exudes a sense of calmness which rubs off on his defenders and the rest of the team: this has already been alluded to by Felipe Anderson in a recent interview. It makes such a difference to the confidence of the crowd and the player to have an assured goalkeeper – and is arguably something West Ham have desperately lacked.
This was probably Adrian’s greatest strength as a goalkeeper: his ability to pull off acrobatic, and often miraculous saves. Fabianski however, has proved himself equal to, and arguably better than, Adrian in this regard. He has made some phenomenal saves this season: some of which mattered, some of which haven’t. His save from Morata earned us a crucial point at a time when we’d taken no points at home and had 3 from 12 in the league. If a moment in a game encapsulated Lukasz as a player: strong, committed and fearless, this was it.
His shot stopping ability is largely due to his positioning. Lukasz is not afraid to rush off his line and commit when necessary – often tightening the angle for opposing strikers to aim at. When he makes the decision to rush he is quick, decisive and does not hesitate. His body positioning is also impressive; Lukasz has saved a number of shots with his legs this season, and also a few with his face!
There is no doubt that Lukasz has asserted his claim to the number one jersey at West Ham United this season: the question from now on is whether he can continue at this level for the coming seasons. If he can, then he will provide a backstop solid enough to build a defence, and in turn, a team around.