Football: MAN TO MANN; MAN CITY V ARSENAL, TOMORROW, 4.05PM Prove you're No.1, Jens.
ARSENE Wenger has challenged Jens Lehmann to prove he is a worthy successor to David Seaman when the pair go head to head tomorrow.
German international Lehmann has taken the place between the Highbury posts that Seaman occupied for 13 years and Wenger knows his former No.1 will be determined to prove a point following his move to Manchester City.
Seaman left after being told by the Arsenal boss he would no longer be first choice, turning down a role as goalkeeping coach and back-up stopper.
Wenger said: "It was a difficult decision to let David go because of his quality. I took it not because I thought he was no longer good enough but because of the number of games we have to play. I knew he could still play at that level but I was not convinced he could do it for 60 games."
That is why he splashed out pounds 1.5m to bring in Lehmann from Borussia Dortmund, and the new keeper has impressed so far in Arsenal's 100 per cent start to the season.
Replacing Gunners legend Seaman would have been a daunting task for anyone but Wenger believes Lehmann, second in line behind Oliver Kahn in the German national squad, is well up to it.
Yet he still fears Seaman, 40 in three weeks, will produce a star performance tomorrow to stump his old team-mates.
Wenger added: "Because of who he has replaced there is pressure on Jens every time he goes out to play.
"I knew I needed experience when David left and Jens had that. I know how important it is to have that experience in your dressing-room.
"But it will be a bit strange for me this weekend to see David on the other side. I am just scared that at the last second my striker won't shoot because he thinks it is his own keeper!
"I have seen David under pressure from the whole country and still give an outstanding performance. I don't think there will be any resentment or revenge on his mind. He will want to beat us purely because he loves to win."
Wenger will meet another former pupil in City striker Nicolas Anelka, now under the tutelage of Kevin Keegan.
Anelka is approaching his best form and masterminded a victory at Blackburn with a late winner on Monday night.
"Nicolas is back to the form he was in when he left us," said Wenger. "He did very well at Blackburn and Charlton but I am not surprised to see that."
Arsenal are top of the table but Wenger fears their title chances have been hampered by a Champions League draw which gives them two trips to eastern Europe (v Lokomtiv Moscow and Dynamo Kiev).
He added: "The other English teams have more comfortable groups than we do. It is tough to go to Russia - I always say that if you have to travel more than two hours it is difficult. Sometimes the players pay a high price in the games that follow the Champions League matches."
Live on Sky Sports 1 from 3pm
SEAMAN: Move; SITTING TARGET: New Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann has impressed Wenger
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Aug 30, 2003|
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