Eight clean sheets in eighteen League games hardly screams incompetent, does it?
So the rumours gathering pace today surrounding our Columbian shot-stopper David Ospina being given an escape route from the ignominy of being benched to Fenerbahce give an air of the unbelievable.
Yet, I released a blog surrounding Cech, Ospina and Szczesny only two months ago and the prospective chances of Cech joining, Ospina holding the No.1 jersey and Szczesny reclaiming it.
Bearing in mind, it is still in the rumour stage, but there is a sliver of credence to this story. Petr Cech, he of the fantastic collection of Golden Glove awards, has been linked so heavily with Arsenal that bookies have now stopped taking bets on the Czech goalkeeper donning a red and white safety cap next season.
If Cech joins, he will undoubtedly be our first choice man between the sticks. He belongs in the higher echelons of No.1’s and will grab us an extra ten points in the race for the league. He could make the difference between a Champions League spot and holding the League trophy aloft.
That leaves a simple equation. Two keepers, one spot as back-up. Who will be happy to stay and fight for their place?
Ospina last season, aside from a few dubious saving efforts, was a calming influence behind our back four in a way that our previous two Polish keepers ( Fabianski and of course Szczesny ) couldn’t elicit. He wasn’t partial to exploring and showed no desire for a sojourn outside his box. When called upon, he did his job.
That was the main problem though. A high portion of Gooners were never sold on the South American. He did his job, he was a consistent 7/10.
7/10 isn’t good enough if we want to be champions.
Young and confident Wojicech won the Golden Gloves alongside Petr Cech in the 2013/14 season. He commanded his area well, he barked out orders, he claimed crosses, he smartly stopped shots. He grabbed the Number One jersey with an iron fist.
Last season though, Szczesny shipped goals. Shots that had no reason to trouble him squeezed into the net. He showed indecision under aerial bombardment. He sent smoke signals from the team showers. These things should have no business with a high profile first choice goalkeeper. Wojicech – it seems – has let his confidence seep into his game and it eventually spills over and leaves blots on his copybook.
There can be no room for this in the future – if his future lies at Arsenal.
All goalkeepers have a thankless task. If you play well, you will receive a modicum of praise but it is to be expected. They have one job, to deny goals being scored. Just fulfill the task given. If they drop a clanger, then it is scrutinised to its core and stories regarding poor form will abound. All thanks to one mistake. If they listen to the comments, then it will affect their performance as they will start to question every decision. As a goalkeeper, if you do this, then the moment will have already passed them by. That is why a lot of brilliant goalies erred toward the unhinged. They didn’t give two hoots about anyone other than their own team. When their boots touched the whitewash, the alter ego needed to cope with the pressure came to the fore.
Szczesny needs to believe he is good enough, because he is. That has never been his problem however. The bane of his fledgling career is resting on his laurels when he has the opportunity to bask in praise. You’ve had a brilliant season Wojicech, so next season you don’t have to fight so hard for everything.
He is at his best when he feels he has something to prove. Currently, there is the small matter of the fanbase and his Manager questioning whether he will ever make the top grade on a consistent basis.
So, on the face of things, we have a consistent goalkeeper who lacks the talent to be a truly wonderful goalkeeper – and a wonderful goalkeeper who lacks consistency.
Petr Cech – if he joins as reported – will be the benchmark for whoever decides to take the mantle of challenger to Cech’s crown. We should be thankful he is a family man as they are the reason he doesn’t want to uproot to another country or even further North in England. He has put down roots in London and Arsenal are the best suitors.
The Ospina rumours were generated by the Turkish press and as soon as they were circulated, both goalkeepers were part of an impromptu Twitter poll. Who should we keep? Who warrants a stay of execution? Who has the minerals for a battle with arguably the best goalkeeper the Premier League has seen since Seaman and Schmeichel?
Ospina or Szczesny? Unremarkable consistency or inconsistent potential? Who gets your vote?