Mannone's Arsenal form earns Wenger praise

LONDON Tue Sep 29, 2009 11:17am BST

Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone clears the ball against Atletico Madrid during their Emirates Cup match at the Emirates Stadium in London August 1, 2009. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone clears the ball against Atletico Madrid during their Emirates Cup match at the Emirates Stadium in London August 1, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Dylan Martinez

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LONDON (Reuters) - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has praised Italian rookie Vito Mannone for his impact during the Premier League club's goalkeeping crisis.

Wenger has turned to Mannone after losing first choice keeper Manuel Almunia for the last four games to a chest infection while reserve goalie Lukasz Fabianski is sidelined with a knee injury.

The imposing 21-year-old has made an impressive start, helping Arsenal to a Champions League win over Standard Liege before keeping clean sheets in Arsenal's last two league victories.

The latest was a man of the match display in Saturday's 1-0 win at Fulham, which took Arsenal to four straight wins in all competitions following successive defeats to Manchester United and Manchester City.

"He played a fantastic game on Saturday and the consistency is the first sign of quality. He kept us in the game in some unbelievable situations.," Wenger said in an Arsenal newsletter.

"Overall he has shown he has the potential to be a very good goalkeeper."

Mannone, who made his Premier League debut on the final day of last season against Stoke City, signed from Italian side Atalanta in July 2005.

"Vito comes from Italy and that means he is a lover of the game," the Frenchman added.

"He is a quiet boy but he has outstanding physical qualities and fantastic reflexes. He deeply wants to improve every day."

Mannone will continue to deputise for Almunia in Tuesday's Champions League match at home to Greek side Olympiakos Piraeus.

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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