Mannone targets No.1 spot

Arsenal stopper boosted by successful loan spell at Hull

Vito Mannone: Arsenal goalkeeper feeling confident after encouraging start to the season

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Italian goalkeeper Vito Mannone believes a loan spell at Championship side Hull City has helped him to challenge Wojciech Szczesny for the Arsenal No.1 jersey this season.

Mannone, 24, has impressed for the Gunners after deputising for the injured Szczesny in three of their opening five fixtures.

He kept two clean sheets against Premier League rivals Stoke and Liverpool before producing an important late save at UEFA Champions League opponents Montpellier to clinch a 2-1 victory on Tuesday.

And the stopper insists last season's temporary spell at Hull, where he kept a club record six consecutive clean sheets, has given him the confidence to succeed at the Emirates.

Path

"The boss talked to me and for the first time I felt he understood I was ready to be No.1."

Vito Mannone

Quotes of the week

"Every goalkeeper has his own path and I had mine," said Mannone.

"I had bad times and I just rolled up my sleeves and worked hard. Then, I thought: 'Let's go to Hull.'

"Nobody wants to go there really, but I found a good club, good fans and I gained experience.

"I played games as a No.1 - 24 games in a row - so that's what I needed.

"It helped me going on to the pitch thinking: 'Okay, I can be No.1 now.'"

Szczesny returned in Arsenal's 6-1 thrashing of Southampton last weekend, but made a glaring error to allow defender Dan Fox to score the visitors' consolation.

Understood

Questions were raised whether it would prompt Arsene Wenger to pick Mannone ahead of the Poland international, before these suggestions were swiftly dismissed by the Gunners boss.

However, Mannone remains hopeful his recent displays have given food for thought to the Frenchman.

"Before the Southampton game the boss talked to me and for the first time I felt he understood I was ready to be No.1," he said after the Montpellier clash.

"I hope, after this result, something has changed."