Petr Cech is now an Arsenal player, ending months of speculation and rumours.
Top clubs from around Europe were reportedly keen on the big man’s services but his desire to continue living in London gave the Gunners the edge and the deal has now gone through.
Arsene Wenger will be hoping that acquiring the keeper’s services will also give his side an advantage that means the Premier League crown could follow the player across London come the end of the next campaign.
The French boss has failed to land the league title since his ‘Invincibles’ side brought it home in 2004, so could Cech represent the missing element in a squad which finished strongly last term and are push to end the drought?
It is fair to say that no one player can truly make a categoric difference over the course of a year in a team game. It is possible though that the right man can propel a club up the table even if the exact effect is hard to quantify. Liverpool without Luis Suarez for example were a shadow of the side that mounted a title challenge during 2013-14, and David De Gea in the season just gone is proof that a world-class goalkeeper can have a major influence on the end of season points total.
There is no doubt that Cech can be that man.
The giant Czech Republic international has already enjoyed a glittering Premier League career and has four League titles under his belt at Chelsea. He once went over 1000 minutes without conceding a league goal and despite losing his place to Thibaut Courtois last term, is still regarded as one of the top goalies in world football.
His desire for first-team football has now seen him look to cross the capital, and this represents a major coup for Arsene Wenger.
Throughout his reign the coach has struggled to find a truly consistent stopper. Even Jens Lehmann, who was between the sticks for the ‘Invincibles’ campaign, was heavily questioned by both the media and Gunners faithful.
Cech, however, goes to the Emirates Stadium with nothing to prove. He has arrived with medals galore and a wealth of big game experience. He is entering the latter stages of his career, yes… but then the same was said when Edwin van der Sar joined Manchester United, and we all know how that turned out.
The 33 year old is not only a worldclass keeper but also a natural leader and the man for the big occasion. If Arsenal are to win the title next term they will need to beat the teams around them, something they have struggled to do over recent years but seem to be addressing now.
The former Rennes man is the ultimate personality for these high pressure fixtures. At 6ft. 5″ his huge, unmistakable frame will give the Gunners an intimidating look, which has been missing for years. For over a decade Premier League strikers have cowered at the sight of Cech’s advancing figure.
Current Arsenal stoppers David Ospina and Wojciech Szczesny have admirable qualities, but with Cech between the sticks, the rest of Wenger’s back four will grow in stature.
The short move across the city of London, familiarity with the league and minimal lifestyle change should all ensure the long-term Chelsea custodian hits the ground running in the north of the capital. This will be vital as Arsenal’s title tilt will need a strong start if the fabled trophy is to be won.
Of course Chelsea are strengthening too and with the right investment the Manchester clubs will be a threat, but the Emirates faithful have every right to be as excited about this signing as the marquee captures of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in recent years.
There will be many factors at play but Arsenal can only be significantly strengthened, both on and off the field, by the addition of Cech. While Chelsea were without doubt the best in the country last season, Mourinho was fortunate with injuries. What effect would a lengthy spell on the sidelines for Courtois have now?