After years and years of stop-gaps, average keepers and some frankly dreadful ones, Arsene Wenger finally looks like he has landed a world class goalkeeper in the shape of the 6ft 5inch frame of formidable Chelsea stopper Petr Cech.
Arsenal have had big goalkeeping issues for the best part of a decade, pretty much since David Seaman left the club, whilst Jens Lehmann was a superb replacement for Arsenal in the ‘Invincibles’ season and had a few good seasons that followed.
But Lehmann made his mistakes and his performances gradually declined. He became very erratic and the big German was dropped halfway through the 2007/08 season.
Since then Arsenal have tried and tested many stoppers – Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone and Wojceich Szczesney have all donned the goalkeeping gloves at the Emirates and none have made that place their own.
And Wenger’s reluctance to invest in what is a crucial position for any side aiming to win the title has certainly cost the Gunners dear over the years.
Arsenal now have a couple of decent goalkeepers in Szczesney and David Ospina, but doubts do still remain over the two,. They aren’t of the standard needed to win the Premier League and, even though Ospina did well in the second half of last season, he did make a couple of errors, something Cech does not deal in.
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Even the great Sir Alex Ferguson believed the goalkeeping position was worth 15 points a season if it is filled by a top stopper, and Cech certainly fits the bill to help Arsenal close the gap on Chelsea.
It does look likely that Cech will end a ten year association with the Blues as he makes the switch to Arsenal, but Jose Mourinho is well aware of the affect Cech could have at Arsenal and is demanding £10m for the 33-year-old.
And the statistics show the despite his advancing years Cech has not lost any of his sharpness. Although he only played seven games last season, he achieved a 89% save percentage – the highest in the Premier League – higher than Opsina’s 80% and Szczesney’s 67%.
And in the last three seasons Petr Cech’s save percentage of 78% is the highest in the Premier League. Stats do only tell so much, but Cech’s arrival at Arsenal will bring so much more.
He will add title winning experience, a know-how in big games and a calmness that has been missing between the sticks at Arsenal for a long time now.
Cech has the record of 21 clean sheets in a Premier League season in the 2004/05 season and since that debut season the Czech has scooped up 13 major honours. His move to Arsenal will no doubt draw comparisons with Manchester United’s signing of Edwin van der Saar back in 2005.
The Dutchman was crucial to United’s success over a six-year period between 2005 and 2011, and Wenger will be hoping Cech can help Arsenal to the four Premier League titles and Champions League van der Saar helped Ferguson’s men too.
Cech’s consistency over the last three seasons show his longevity could be as long as van der Saar’s at United’s and whilst signing Cech for £11m may seem pricey for a player of his age, it could prove to be a very shrewd signing for Wenger, and should not impact on the other signings the Frenchman needs to make.
After years of making do between the sticks it looks like Arsenal’s goalkeeping hunt is over and Cech could help take Arsenal to the next level.