by Lewis Ambrose
Petr Čech’s first official game for Arsenal saw him keep a clean sheet against former club Chelsea at Wembley.
Does it get any better?
Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has been chasing Čech for a number of years and finally got his man in an £11M move this summer. As fate would have it Čech lined up against the club he spent 11 seasons with on Sunday and he was the one celebrating at the final whistle.
In truth the Czech goalkeeper didn’t have a great deal to do but went about his duties with little fuss, making a great save from an Oscar free-kick and exuding a calming presence throughout the game.
Wenger was pleased with his new goalkeeper and even gave him credit for a save that he didn’t make. It looked like Chelsea would grab an equaliser as Eden Hazard bore down on goal but the best player in the Premier League last season smashed the ball over the bar from close range.
“He did well,” Wenger said of Čech after the game.
“Maybe he had an influence on the Chelsea players as well because they felt that to score against him they had to score the perfect goal. When you have that sometimes you want to try too hard. It happened especially with Eden Hazard when he had that chance in the box.”
The chance was a huge one and not the sort that you would usually expect Hazard, a calm head in most situations, to miss. Having trained with him for a number of years maybe he really was pressured into hitting the ball too hard because he knows just how difficult it is to beat Čech.
If that really is the case, Arsenal would have made a signing that provides an even bigger psychological boost than most people have realised. Making Arsenal better is one thing, but making Chelsea players worse? That’s one hell of a bonus.