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The Gunners manager has described his Spanish goalkeeper as one of the finest currently playing in England.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has highlighted the performances this season of Manuel Almunia, the Gunners' goalkeeper who he feels does not often receive the public plaudits he deserves.

"He’s had a good season and I rate him very highly," Wenger told The Times today.

"He does not get as much support as he deserves but he will if he carries on playing well. With him and Lukasz Fabianski we have two world-class goalkeepers at the club."

Almunia, signed by Wenger from Celta Vigo in 2004, after being spotted playing at Albacete Balompie on loan, had to struggle to become the automatic first-choice he is today, as the Arenal glovesman's role was held onto, somewhat manically at times, by larger-than-life German Jens Lehmann, with whom Wenger feels Almunia can be compared to favourably.

"Lehmann was more into speaking his mind — if we can call it that," he continued.

"Almunia is quieter but he speaks now and he is technically sound and physically very strong. Lehmann toughened him up, he learnt a lot from Jens. I rate Almunia as highly as any other goalkeeper in the Premier League.

"Lehmann was not diplomatic but he was respected in the dressing-room," added Wenger.

Meanwhile, Wenger has also urged Arsenal's supporters to show a little more patience after several Gunners players have been the target of jeers from the home support whilst playing at the Emirates, but also acknowledges that his team must do more to getthe fans on their side.

"The crowd is more unforgiving and impatient than ever.

"It’s very tough for the players but we have to deal with it. In our job you cannot complain. We have to create the positive vibes and get the fans on our side.

"This year has been tougher than any other but I believe it will help the team to become stronger mentally. This season has been disturbing because we didn’t plan to be so far behind," the Frenchman explained.

Zack Wilson,