Reserve ‘keeper Vito Mannone was in splendid form last night against Reading as he made a superb last-minute penalty save to deny Shane Long. Vito denied Long and Lita on several occasions and was voted the man of the match. Early on in the season, he looked a little shaky, especially when dealing with shots from long range. Now though, he is brimming with confidence and is one of the oldest players in the Reserve team. He has been on the bench for the first team in the Carling Cup this season and a string of impressive performances in the Reserves has impressed Arsene Wenger. With Jens Lehmann set to leave the Club in the summer, there will doubtless be speculation that Arsenal need to buy another goalkeeper. But why should they, when Vito could easily become third choice. There are rumours that he could go out on loan next season and Vito has already experienced life on temporary leave from Arsenal.
At the start of last season, he joined Barnsley on loan and after a couple of good performances in training, he won a place in the starting XI. However, things didn’t go to plan for Vito as he made several mistakes and let in many easy goals. He returned to Arsenal to become no.1 reserve ‘keeper and put his memories of Barnsley firmly in the back of his mind. He played a couple of pre-season games for Gretna in the summer and looked as if he was going to join the Scottish side on loan but Arsene Wenger stepped in and indicated that he would rather Mannone stay at Arsenal as he wanted him to be part of the Carling Cup side.
After an impressive season so far, the ball is now firmly in Mannone’s court. Should he stay at Arsenal and secure his place in the first-team squad and perhaps feature in the Carling Cup, or should he take a risk and go out on loan hoping to avoid a repeat of his Barnsley nightmare and watch as a new goalie takes his place at Arsenal? The decision is up to him.