Lehmann back to patch up Arsenal’s goalkeeping crisis

ARSENAL manager Arsène Wenger is confident returning goalkeeper Jens Lehmann can help to get the best out of Manuel Almunia after the former German international officially returned to the club last night.

Lehmann, 41, has rejoined to aid the Gunners’ injury crisis which has seen keepers Lukasz Fabianski, Wojciech Szczesny and Vito Mannone all sidelined.

The rolling monthly deal, until the end of the season, was completed in time for Lehmann to take his place on the substitutes’ bench at West Brom tomorrow. Lehmann said: “I’m very excited to be rejoining Arsenal. I have kept myself fit since the end of last season and I’m ready to contribute at any time for the team. I have many great memories from my previous time at the club and Arsenal has always had a place in my heart.”

Lehmann – part of the Invincibles side of 2003/04 – will bring some much-needed experience to the dressing room, but the move will also resurrect his often fractious relationship with Almunia. At the height of the acrimony between the two, Almunia went as far as claiming: “To have someone here who hates me is just amazing. I know he hates me.”

However, Wenger insists the duo can work in harmony as his Arsenal squad look to salvage their season by winning the league title.

“There has been much more said about that relationship than what happened. There is a lot of respect between the two goalkeepers,” said Wenger. “I think Jens Lehmann will get the best out of Almunia, because he will show him every day he is ready to fight for his place – as he has always been. Almunia will be motivated by that.”

Despite the boost of Lehmann’s unexpected return, Arsenal have plenty of other fitness worries. Alex Song, captain Cesc Fabregas and England winger Theo Walcott are all still sidelined, with Wenger suggesting the latter had “no chance” of featuring during the international break.

Centre-half Thomas Vermaelen, meanwhile, is not expected to feature again this season as he recovers from an Achilles problem, while Johan Djourou will be out for at least six weeks after dislocating his shoulder in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Manchester United.

Wenger and Samir Nasri have both been banned for one match by UEFA for remarks made to the referee after Arsenal’s Champions League defeat by Barcelona. The Arsenal manager has also been fined €10,000.

“It is one of the very few times that I feel I don’t deserve it, because I don’t feel I did anything wrong. I have no chance to speak my mind and I will have to accept it, but frankly I don’t feel wrong and you don’t feel at ease if you know you have done something wrong.

“This time I am quite relaxed, I don’t even listen to what they have to say because I know what I’ve done and what I have said. I don’t feel in this story I will have to be the one to be punished.”

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