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Is Milan game make or break for the remainder of Jens Lehmann's career?

Manuel Almunia's continuing illness has thrown Jens Lehmann a potential career lifeline as the experienced internationalist has been chosen to take his place back in goal for tonight's clash with AC Milan.

Earlier this week I predicted that the Manchester United game could have been Lehmann's last for his club, but with Almunia still sidelined, Mad Jens will have the chance to play just his second European game of the season.

And as the 38-year-old struggles to get in enough games to ensure his place in Germany's Euro 2008 starting line-up, what better opportunity for Lehmann to stake his claim to retain his Arsenal starting place than with a shut-out against the European club champions tonight?

If Lehmann can marshall his defence and prevent the Italian league leaders from scoring tonight, then his quest to win back his place in the Arsenal first team will be done no end of good. Any mistakes in such a high profile game, on the other hand, could be the final nail in the coffin of his illustrious club career...

While I don't believe Lehmann is anywhere near as sharp as he was a couple of seasons ago, I still think he's Arsenal's best goalkeeper and I'm glad that he stayed in the January transfer window, as asking Lukasz Fabianski to step in against Milan would not have filled me with confidence.

Hopefully Lehmann's experience will strengthen Arsenal's resolve this evening as we square up to a true European giant. Granted, he goes into the game following a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Man United, but he'll hopefully get a bit more protection than messrs Gallas and co gave him at Old Trafford on Saturday.

In the twilight of his playing days, Lehmann may well see this season as his final chance to get his hands on the European Cup and surely he shouldn't need any more motivation than that to put in a strong performance?!

Another storming Lehmann set of results in Europe would be a fitting way to end his career with the Gunners and if he could repeat his heroics of 2006 by keeping a clean sheet for the rest of the Champions League campaign, then he'd truly be able to claim the title of an Arsenal legend.

What do you reckon? Will Jens be up to the test tonight? And if he does keep a clean sheet, should he retain his starting place? Share your thoughts on Lehmann here, using our comments section below.

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Posted by Gordon Masson on February 20, 2008 11:30 AM in News| Players
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