Almunia a happy Gunner

Spanish keeper ready to fend off German rival Lehmann

Almunia: Loving life

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Manuel Almunia is refusing to take his position in Arsenal's goal for granted, as he reflects on being the last line behind one of Europe's most attractive sides.

While Arsenal's free-flowing football has stolen the plaudits this season, a staunch defensive resolve has underpinned their success.

Almunia has established himself as the club's first choice for the first time in his Arsenal career, with Jens Lehmann having been openly critical of Arsene Wenger's decision to resign him to the sidelines.

While Lehmann remains disgruntled, Almunia has spoken of being in a 'privileged position' between Arsenal's posts.

"I am in a privileged position to be in a team which is playing the best football in Europe at the moment," said Almunia to the club's official magazine.

"It is unbelievable sometimes when we score goals and the defenders come back to take up their positions again - I say to Kolo [Toure], 'how on Earth did we do that?'

"I just know I have to play well in each game and do not like to look into the future too much.

"If I am thinking about January or February in the next game I could make a couple of mistakes and be back on the bench.

"Football is very cruel - and especially with goalkeepers. That is why it is such a difficult position to play.

"At the end of the day we are all human and not perfect - everyone makes mistakes in what they do and people have to understand that."

Top form

Almunia believes he is currently in the best form of his career as he looks to fend off Lehmann's calls for reinstatement.

"Each year I am maturing," he reflected.

"My head is now very calm, very relaxed, and I certainly keep my concentration better than in my first year, when there were many things on my mind with many changes.

"Now I treat football like something to enjoy and not worry about too much.

"It is a beautiful sport and if you do not enjoy it now then you won't be able to get the time back once you've retired.

"I only have one life to live out this possibility that I have."