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Apr 18, 2012

Szczesny: I still need to prove myself

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny says he does not "feel like a proper No. 1" at present and insists he will not recognise himself as the Gunners' main man until he has played more games.

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Szczesny, 22, has emerged as Arsene Wenger's first-choice keeper this season, earning plaudits for his consistent performances in a position that has caused Arsenal problems in recent years.

The Gunners have arguably not had a reliable presence between the posts since David Seaman left the club in 2003, with Jens Lehmann, Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski among those who have tried to fill the Englishman's gloves.

Szczesny's assured displays have seen him heralded as the long-term solution for the Gunners, though the player himself insists he still has plenty of work to do, and plenty of games to play, before he can be considered the club's undisputed No. 1.

"I'm 22 years old and I don't think I'm an established No. 1," Szczesny told Arsenal Player. " I still need to prove myself at this club.

"I do feel confident, but if we had this conversation in a few years' time and I've played 500 games for this club, I'll feel like I'm an established No. 1.

"I've played 65 games for the club, I think [it's actually 69], and there's still a long way for me to go. So I don't feel like a proper No. 1 - I still wear number 13 on my back!''

Szczesny believes the major factors in his rapid rise at Emirates Stadium over the past 18 months have been the competition provided by Polish compatriot Fabianski and the faith shown in him by his manager.

"I know I have to be at my very best in every game because he [Fabianski] is waiting to take my spot," Szczesny said. "It helps keep you sharp and to be at your very best.

"I've never been short of confidence but when you actually start playing regularly and you feel like you're No. 1 for the club, it gives you massive confidence knowing that the manager believes in you and trusts whatever you do.

"You know you can afford to make the odd mistake and you won't be dropped. It gives me a lot of confidence and that kind of shows in my performances. I believe I have improved, I've matured a lot in goal, I keep my focus for 90 minutes - which wasn't always the case in my early days.

"So the improvement is there but I'm hoping to improve with every single game and every single season at this club.''

Despite his personal success this season, Szczesny admitted he could not be completely content.

"I would've been more satisfied if we had won any trophies,'' he said. "My goal at the beginning of the season was to win trophies for this club and I haven't won any, so that's always a big disappointment.

"But it's my first full season in professional football, I'm enjoying it, and I think I've been quite consistent considering my age. Obviously, I could've done better on a few occasions but it's been okay.''

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