Somebody should sit Arsene Wenger down, put Joni Mitchell on the stereo and leave him to learn from Big Yellow Taxi that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. For the second year running, FourFourTwo’s Stats Zone Premier League Goalkeeper of the Season gong is awarded to an Arsenal émigré. Last year it was Sunderland’s Vito Mannone proving the Frenchman wrong – briefly, at least – and in 2014/15 it’s the turn of his erstwhile senior partner in Waiting For Wojciech Szczesny To Get Injured Ltd.
Lukasz Fabianski had to wait seven years for first-team football in Engl – the UK, and he was 29 when the expiry of his Arsenal contract allowed that to happen. But good things come to those who wait, we’re told, and what promises to be a fruitful Swansea City career began, encouragingly, with a win at Old Trafford on his debut. Signing Fabianski always looked like a bargain for the Swans – good feet for a passing team, plus a healthy shot-to-save ratio and Premier League experience – all for the princely sum of zero pounds and zero pennies, but only in retrospect is it so abundantly clear what a fine acquisition he was. Liberated, the goalkeeper’s move to South Wales seemed to bring him confidence, which has only grown with good performances.
Fabianski had big games against former club Arsenal and Manchester City
Meanwhile, the departing Michel Vorm, such a key player for the Welsh side, has endured a season to forget in north London with Tottenham – something with which Fabianski could surely sympathise.
If the Pole’s place in our team of the season comes as a surprise, that’s because, like nearly all reliable goalkeepers, he does his best work unnoticed. Football fans outside Wales’ second city probably wouldn’t guess that Fabianski was behind only Joe Hart (14) for clean sheets this season (13) or that he made the most saves in the top flight (137). Swansea’s defence has been improved but not impenetrable: that they recorded their lowest goals-against tally in the Premier League is thanks in large part to their goalkeeper.
Fabianski also has the highest shots-to-saves ratio in the league after David Ospina (who featured for less than half of the season) and Costel Pantilimon (who is really, really tall). He held onto 88 of his 89 catches, a figure that England’s cricket team would do well to copy and one especially helpful for Swansea, following Vorm’s less-than-dominant aerial presence.
Players’ Player of the Year at Swansea, having made more league appearances there than in seven years at Arsenal, and back in Poland’s starting XI – ahead of Szczesny, ironically – Fabianski has begun a new life to the west of the Severn. Maybe it was worth the wait after all.
Stats Zone Premier League Full-Back of 2014/15
Stats Zone Premier League Centre-Back of 2014/15
Stats Zone Premier League Central Midfielder of 2014/15
Stats Zone Premier League Attacking Midfielder of 2014/15
Stats Zone Premier League Striker of 2014/15
Stats Zone Premier League Player of 2014/15
Stats Zone Premier League Young Player of 2014/15
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Huw was on the FourFourTwo staff from 2009 to 2015, ultimately as the magazine's Managing Editor, before becoming a freelancer and moving to Wales. As a writer, editor and tragic statto, he still contributes regularly to FFT in print and online, though as a match-going #WalesAway fan, he left a small chunk of his brain on one of many bus journeys across France in 2016.