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Arsenal keeper Almunia plays down penalty heroics

Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia shrugged off his penalty heroics in Saturday's victory over Tottenham.

"Instinct took a big part in this penalty and luck as well," said Almunia. "Robbie Keane changes the side he shoots sometimes, and it's difficult."

Almunia is Spanish but will qualify for England in a year and an international call-up would mark a stunning turnaround for a player that looked prone to errors at the start of his career at Arsenal.

The way Gunners fans sang his name suggests he is firmly ahead of Jens Lehmann in the pecking order.

"I don't know why he hasn't been called up by Spain but all I would only say is that England should take advantage of it and call him up," said manager Arsene Wenger.

"He made a few mistakes but now he looks like he has gained confidence and everyone can see how good he is.

"Everyone makes mistakes - (Jose) Reina, (Edwin) van der Sar, everyone. But he was under more pressure than anyone else in the Premier League because he has been under pressure from an outstanding goalkeeper in Jens Lehmann."

Wenger feels Almunia is thriving with the competition at Arsenal.

"That's the way of things when you are top-level sportsmen: the competition is very strong," said the Frenchman. "It comes from within your camp and also from your opponents.

"I'm not sure what their relationship is like: perhaps they are going on holiday together this week, but I doubt it!"

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Tribal Football Staff

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