Why fabulous Fabianski is Poles apart for Swans
WHILE football is very much a team effort, there can be no doubt Swansea City will owe Lukasz Fabianski a considerable debt of gratitude should they retain their Premier League status.
The Poland international has proved to be one of the best signings of this top-flight era, perhaps of any era when you consider he was signed on a free transfer from Arsenal in 2014.
There were those who had doubted him, he was cruelly dubbed ‘Flappyhandski’ by some, but he has been nothing short of exemplary for the Swans.
No wonder the Jack Army sing lustily of the ‘big Pole in our goal’ both home and away.
The 32-year-old, who turns 33 on Wednesday, has not only impressed with his shot-stopping abilities, but with his dominance of the penalty area and authority in the air.
It is no exaggeration to say Swansea would probably already be bound for the Championship were it not for his performances.
But just how good is the former Arsenal man? And what have his managers, team-mates and Swans greats had to say about him?
A QUICK glance through Fabianski’s record at Swansea makes for interesting reading, and an immediate illustration of just how good a signing he has proved to be.
For example, in each of his four seasons in South Wales, Fabianski has been among the Premier League’s top three keepers when it comes to saves made.
Perhaps more surprising is the highest figure in any season came in the 2014-15 campaign - where Swansea finished eighth - as the Pole made 137 stops.
In the seasons since he has tallied 115, 117 and 114, although the latter tally is likely to rise with five games remaining in the season.
His save percentage has also been consistently high. In his first year in South Wales he saved 74.7 per cent of all shots faced, his tally for this term is currently 71.1. Overall at Swansea the figure is 69.3.
FABIANSKI’S confidence and sure handling in the air have also been a big part of his success in South Wales, as part of a side who have traditionally had difficulty dealing with crosses and set-pieces.
Over each of the previous three seasons the 6ft 3in stopper has led the Premier League in high claims, he is second to Burnley’s Nick Pope as this term reaches its close.
He has also been among the leading keepers when it comes to successful punches.
What they say about him
THE bald figures offer a hint at how good Fabianski has been, and it is telling that manager Carlos Carvalhal describes him as a calming influence for himself and the rest of the Swans squad.
“Lukasz is a fantastic goalkeeper,” said Carvalhal.
“The best keepers are the ones that save their team points, and he is one of them. We are winning points with him.
“He is one of the reasons I am able to be calm in the technical area. I know how good he is, especially in the aerial part of the game.
“He is very, very good so I can be quiet when the ball is around him.”
Roger Freestone, another great Swans keeper has also given the current number one his seal of approval.
“I think Lukasz Fabianski is fantastic, he has been different class. I think we would have been dead and buried already without him,” he said.
“The amount of saves he makes, his distribution, he is top class.
“He is an international who works hard and I take my hat off to him.
“The game has moved on a lot since I played, these guys are athletes, not footballers. It is completely different.
“We played in a tough old league, it is nothing like it is today. You knew you were going to get a battering every weekend, but Lukasz has been fantastic and long may it continue.”
columnist Leighton James has been another to heap praise on Fabianski, with the former Swans and Wales winger dubbing the Pole as the best keeper Swansea have ever had.
“For me, he has to be the top goalkeeper. I was always a huge admirer of Noel Dwyer when I first started watching the Swans, but I think Lukasz is better,” said James.
“Roger Freestone was also an outstanding keeper for the club in the lower leagues, but Lukasz has been doing it week in, week out at the highest level.
“I would offer him whatever contract he wanted to keep him at Swansea, he has been that good.”
> Lukasz Fabianski pulls off an eye-catching stop for the Swans against Huddersfield last month and inset, celebrates his club’s goal against Everton on Saturday