With Arsenal signing Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen, and no clear answer whether Petr Cech or David Ospina will leave, let’s look at whether the 36-year-old should be the man to make way this summer.
When Arsenal signed former Chelsea goalkeeper, Petr Cech in the summer of 2015, ex-Chelsea captain John Terry said the former Czech number 1 would save The Gunners between 10-15 points per season. Now, Profit Accumulator, the matched betting website, reports that odds on the legendary goalie keeping a clean sheet in most matches have plummeted since the second half of last season.
Cech lost his number 1 jersey to Thibaut Courtois at Chelsea, who was returning to Stamford Bridge after a successful three-year loan spell at Atletico Madrid. Petr was let go by Jose Mourinho, who didn’t want him to join Arsenal, but Roman Abramovich intervened, and granted him a move to North London for family reasons.
He did fairly well in his first campaign, but the last two years have been nowhere near his normal levels. The club hierarchy should let him go and here’s why:
Cech is among the best ever goalkeepers in the history of football. During his 11 years at Stamford Bridge, he won countless trophies, making save after save. He reached the height of his career in 2012, helping the Blues win the Champions League. Cech is on a steady decline now, and for a team like Arsenal who are looking to the future, he doesn’t seem like the right fit.
He is 36, which isn’t too old for a shotstopper, but his powers have waned. He is no longer as vocal, he can’t command his goal-line well and wouldn’t command a first team place at the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City.
The distraction of not picking Cech for matches would be one that Unai Emery could do without. The Spanish tactician is looking at improving the back line, and has already signed Bernd Leno. But if the German comes in and takes the number 1 spot, inevitably questions will arise in the media suggesting Emery and Cech have personal issues.
Cech sitting on the bench would be an unwelcome sight, and would dominate the headlines. Divisions may arise in the dressing room, even though Cech is a consummate professional and won’t intentionally cause any trouble.
Hampering the chances of Bernd Leno
26-year-old goalkeeper Bernd Leno is experienced in the Bundesliga, but needs to hit the ground running in the Premier League. England is a very unforgiving country, especially if Leno makes mistakes in his first games. If Leno and Cech do remain in the first team next season, Emery will have to rotate in order to placate both men.
Leno needs consistency to find form in England. Taking him out for Cech at some point will hamper his rhythm and affect his game. Unlike many other positions, goalkeepers often need to be the undisputed number 1 to get the best out of them.
Cech has already won respect and plaudits throughout the league. He has the record for the most clean sheets, with over 200, a total that doesn’t look like being matched anytime soon. However, perhaps it is time for him to bring his Premier League story to an end.
He has nothing to prove anymore, and should bow out when the ovation is loudest. The board should be brave and make it an amicable split, before that opportunity passes.