EXCLUSIVE | By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Wojciech Szczesny is set to get the nod over David Ospina to start in goal for Arsenal in Saturday’s FA Cup final, Football Insider sources understand.
Arsene Wenger is ready to hand the 25-year-old outcast the goalkeeper’s jersey for Saturday evening’s clash against Aston Villa.
Szczesny has played in the last four rounds of the competition but has not played in the Premier League since being dropped in favour of Ospina at the turn of the year.
Nevertheless, Wenger is set to remain loyal to Szczesny for the FA Cup, just as he did last season with Lukasz Fabianski for the final against Hull.
It could be Szczesny’s last match for Arsenal, just as it was for Fabianski 12 months ago.
As revealed by Football Insider, Szczesny wants to quit Emirates Stadium after losing his regular spot to Ospina and being made aware that he will slip even further down the pecking order if the Gunners clinch the signing of Petr Cech.
Liverpool are among the clubs closely monitoring Szczesny’s situation.
Arsenal are in talks with Chelsea about signing Cech this summer and have been given permission by their west London rivals to discuss terms with the long-serving Blues ‘keeper. It is understood that the Gunners have already met with representatives of Cech and made him a contract offer.
Szczesny has made only four first-team appearances – each of them in the FA Cup – since the Gunners’ 2-0 defeat at Southampton on New Year’s Day, in which he was at fault for both of the home side’s goals.
Football Insider understands that Arsene Wenger retains total belief in Szczesny and does not want to sell him, although the manager accepts that the player needs to rediscover his hunger after five years at the top level.
Szczesny, who made his first-team debut aged 19 and was installed as Arsenal’s regular No1 when he was 20, still has three years remaining on his contract and the club know they can command a £10million-plus fee if they sell the Academy graduate this summer.