Main Mannone! Arsenal stopper tells injured Szczesny he won't snatch back No 1 spot
15:24 GMT, 5 September 2012
Italian goalkeeper Vito Mannone has warned Wojciech Szczesny to expect a fight for the Arsenal No 1 jersey this season.
The 24-year-old has deputised for the injured Poland international in the Gunners' last two Barclays Premier League games – recording a clean sheet in both.
While Szczesny, recovering from a minor rib problem, is expected to return for the visit of Southampton on September 15, Mannone maintains he has come a long way since a calamitous display in a Champions League game at Olympiacos last December.
Safe hands: Vito Mannone has impressed in his two games this season
Injured: No 1 Wojciech Szczesny is sidelined by a rib injury
He puts a large par of that down to a confidence-building and productive four-month loan spell with Hull in the npower Championship.
'I have improved in every part of the goalkeeper position. In my mind as well, I came back stronger and stronger,' Mannone said.
'Especially after the mistake at Olympiacos – it is never easy to come back, but when I have got my back against the wall, I don't mind. I just roll up my sleeves and try to work because I know I can do well.
'It is a good fight between the keepers because we know the level is quite high and you need to keep working and improve yourself to get the first spot.'
Lukasz Fabianski and young Argentine Damian Martinez are the other goalkeepers available to manager Arsene Wenger.
Mannone, though, feels his spell of regular football with Hull – during which he kept a club record six consecutive clean sheets – has given him an extra edge.
'When you are number one, you feel important and like the happiest man in the world, that sort of feeling gives me the chance to go onto the pitch with confidence,' Mannone added on Arsenal player.
'I had some good games [at Hull] and it was a great experience for me. The best thing was playing senior football and playing consecutive games and getting the mentality of the number one.'
Mannone added: 'I know Arsenal, everybody here and I am really happy when I am involved, like now. I would like to be involved more and more and establish myself.'