He was arguably one of the signings of last season, but things haven’t gone so well for Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech this term.And those who have criticised the likes of Mesut Ozil, Francis Coquelin and Nacho Monreal in recent weeks need to look even further into where the side’s problems lie.
No goalkeeper in the Premier League kept more clean sheets than Cech last year (16). Conceding just 36 goals last campaign was almost a league best too.
But the stats are worrying for the Gunners this time out. Cech has just seven clean sheets to his name so far this season – four of which came by October. And he’s already conceded 28 goals, only eight fewer than he managed in the whole of last campaign.
The 34-year-old’s high-profile error against Chelsea last weekend has thrust more unwanted attention upon the Gunners glovesman. But in truth, he’s not been at his best for months.
We know his delivery has never been one of his strong points, but too often this season we’ve seen plenty of his attributes called in to question.
Usually a dominant figure in between the sticks, Cech’s presence has hardly been evident this year. His catching has been off, he’s been beaten at his near post too many times, and his handling of one-on-ones is much worse than what we’re used to seeing.
Last year he won Arsenal crucial points. This time though, we’re struggling to think of how many times he’s done that. They say a top goalkeeper wins you some 15 points in a season – and boy, what would Arsenal give for an extra 15 points right now?
In truth, Cech is lucky the Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo is having such a shocker of a season, because all of the media attention has been on him so far.
However, the Chilean shotstopper has conceded fewer than Cech and he’s claimed more crosses and made more punches. He’s almost made as more successful passes, despite playing five games fewer.
But Arsene Wenger is reluctant to make a huge change to his starting line-up. Just as he won’t leave Ozil out, regardless of how he plays, Cech’s position in the Arsenal goal is under no threat.
But it should be.
In David Ospina, Wenger boasts arguably one of the best backup goalkeepers in the division.
Despite playing only eight games for the Gunners this year, the Colombian has impressed us more often than not. In fact, had it not been for his heroics in the Champions League against both Paris Saint-Germain and FC Basel, Arsenal wouldn’t have topped Group A.
If a striker would’ve been equally as influential in said games, there would’ve been calls for him to become a first-team regular – especially if his teammate was struggling. So how come that hasn’t happened with Ospina?
Will he be Cech’s long-term replacement? Probably not.
But with the title race all but over for the north London outfit, it’s now time for Wenger to make some drastic changes to his starting XI in the coming weeks. And that starts in goal.
What do fans think? Does Cech deserve to come into the firing line, or is he not to blame for Arsenal’s woes this year?
Have your say in the comments section below!
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