by Nia Griffiths
Arsene Wenger has spoken about signing Petr Cech and how the former Chelsea keeper was allowed to come to such a close rival.
The boss explained the ‘special problem‘ goalkeepers have in that they need to have consistent playing time, like other players, but they also need to know they’re going to be number one. If they’re not the top goalkeeper at the club, they can very well fall by the wayside and although you obviously need more than one pair of save hands at the club, they number two needs to know exactly where they stand. They need to be hungry but realistic.
This is where problems arose for Cech, who spent 11 years at the Blues, winning 13 trophies and appearing in almost 500 matches. When he was dropped to the bench behind 23-year-old Thibaut Courtois, he wanted out. He wanted regular game time again.
Explaining how we managed to acquire the Czech international from our London rivals, Wenger said, “The deal happened because of the special relationship that Petr Cech had with Roman Abramovich. He had a promise from him that he could go out, no matter where, at a certain price, and that’s why it happened.”
This I can believe. In Cech’s parting statement to the Chelsea fans when the news broke that he had signed with us, he specifically thanked Abramovich and has since continued to be grateful to the Chelsea owner for allowing the move.
“It wasn’t a huge surprise for me because they couldn’t keep him forever, at 33 years of age, as a No 2. Goalkeepers have a special problem in the game,” Wenger continued. “If you have to talk about being No 2, you are in trouble. The goalkeeper will say, ‘Yes I want to come but I want to play as well’.”
He brought up another big team as an example, saying, “It’s such a problem, and it was for Barcelona last year. They played with one goalkeeper in the Champions League and one goalkeeper in the league. That shows you how much you need two goalkeepers, and how much you need to give them games as well.”
Finally, on what Cech can do for the squad, Wenger said, “He can help us with the continuity of his performances and can help us to develop our keepers, who are top talents.”
Adding, “He can strengthen the belief in the team as well because when you sit in the dressing room and look around you, you need some people who can give you confidence.”
Cech played his first match in an Arsenal shirt against Everton in the Barclays Asia Trophy and, if his gravity-defying save is anything to go by, he’s got a bright future ahead of him.