Petr Čech has a contract until 2019, but with the goalkeeper turning 36 in May, we’re asking if Arsenal should be looking to replace him.
There’s no doubt that Čech has been one of the greatest goalkeepers of the Premier League era. Four Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, four Community Shields, Champions League and Europa League trophies, and the most Premier League clean sheets of all time. Quite the list of achievements.
Petr broke the clean sheet record with the Gunners, although most of them came with Chelsea. Other than that, just two of the Community Shields and one of the FA Cups came during the Czech international’s Arsenal spell. Unfortunately, he hasn’t managed to help the team to the same success as he helped Chelsea achieve.
However, that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been successful with, or important to, the Gunners.
Three trophies are better than none, and a BBC study actually found that the ‘keeper was Arsenal’s most influential player. The findings were based on how the team performs without each player, so perhaps that says as much about Ospina as it does about Petr.
Comparing the two goalkeepers this season, Čech has conceded 11 in nine matches, whilst Ospina has conceded three in three. However, Ospina was facing the likes of Doncaster Rovers and BATE Borisov, whereas Čech has had two games against Chelsea and one against Liverpool, among others.
But when it comes to who was at fault for the goals, I don’t think you can really blame Petr.
For Čech’s 11 goals conceded, I think you could only really question him on the first against Leicester, when he ran out of goal unnecessarily and was then out of position for Okazaki’s header. Other than that I can’t think of a goal where he was any more at fault than the rest of the team.
However, the problem is not necessarily that he’s conceding goals I’d expect him to save. It’s that other ‘keepers across the league are making unexpected saves, something you can rarely say about Petr this season.
David de Gea won United a point against Liverpool last weekend with his outstretched foot. Lloris did a massive amount of work to help Spurs avoid defeat at the Bernabeu, and Ederson saved a penalty as City won 2-1 against Napoli.
I like Petr. I think he was a world class goalkeeper and he’s still a very good one. But I don’t see him carrying Arsenal through games like some other goalkeepers are for the Gunners’ rivals at the moment. At his age, it’s a gamble to expect that to start happening.
Ideally, I’d want Wenger to let Ospina move somewhere he can be a starter, and to sign a young top-class goalkeeper.
The new signing could learn from Čech before eventually taking over his position, like Wojciech Szczesny and Gianluigi Buffon. Otherwise, Arsenal’s lineup of passable ‘keepers will leave the club lagging behind the excellent ones elsewhere.