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Arsenal face difficult Ospina and Szczesny decision

arsenal-goalkeepers

With Petr Cech’s transfer to Arsenal nearing completion, the general consensus is that one of Arsenal’s first team goalkeepers, either Wojciech Szczesny and David Ospina, will be departing the club because Cech is being purchased by Arsene Wenger to be a starter. However, due to Ospina’s sensational form in Copa America, should it be Ospina that deserves the start? And if so, what does this mean for Cech? And is Szczesny already a goner?

During the 2014/15 season, Cech showed his quality in the few opportunities he was given, keeping 5 clean sheets in 7 matches as Thibaut Courtois overtook him for the Chelsea starting goalkeeper spot. At 33, Cech is in the prime of his goalkeeping career and is definitely an excellent short term fix for the goalkeeping conundrum the Gunners have experienced for the last nine years.

Ospina joined the club at the beginning of last season from Nice and started Arsenal’s final 18 matches of the Barclays Premier League season. He kept 8 clean sheets and was generally solid, barring a few sloppy moments such as his performance versus Monaco in the UEFA Champions League. While he may be relatively short for a ‘keeper at 6ft, Ospina was by no means bullied in the air in his first season in England. In fact, according to the Squawka comparison matrix, he made 51 catches, more than Cech and Szczesny, at an average of 2.83 catches per match.

Ospina is also a very good shot stopper, making more saves than Cech and Szczesny with 35. Perhaps the finest display of his shot stopping abilities this year was versus Argentina in the Copa America on Friday night, where he pulled off an amazing double save to deny Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi. While Ospina never produced any stellar performances like that for Arsenal, he brought consistency in between the sticks, which they had lacked earlier in the season. With Cech arriving, the 26 year old may opt to search elsewhere for first team football and has recently been linked with Turkish club Fenerbache.

Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny had been Arsenal’s first choice keeper from the 2010/11 season when he broke into the first team at 20 years old. He had always shown promise and was described by Arsene Wenger as Arsenal’s future number 1 while on loan at Brentford earlier in his career.

 

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Five years later, it is fair to say that things have not gone exactly as Szczesny would have hoped. After a great 2013/2014 season that saw him keep 16 Premier League clean sheets and sharing the Golden Glove award with his soon to be teammate Petr Cech, the following season was a disappointment. Injuries in the first half of the season meant that Szczesny had to play in front of a makeshift back four and he suffered as a result. After a horrid performance away at Southampton in which he made two errors that resulted in goals, he was fined for smoking in the changing room and lost his starting spot to David Ospina. Szczesny is often criticized for his overconfidence, which is often times his downfall. He is, however, unlike Ospina, an imposing presence at 6’ 5” and can command his box when he is on form. A perfect example of this is the FA Cup final versus Aston Villa in which he was flawless. His inconsistency is the reason why his future at Arsenal is uncertain as he certainly possesses the ability.

Whoever decides to stay as Petr Cech’s understudy, whether it is Szczesny or Ospina, certainly has time to reclaim the number one spot at the Emirates. They will have the Capital One Cup and FA Cup to impress and work their way back into Arsene Wenger’s thoughts.

Being homegrown and apparently willing to remain at the club, Szczesny seems more likely to remain.

By wanting to be number one no matter what club, Ospina seems to be the more ambitious player. For a club that aims to challenge for the title next season, would Szczesny be reliable enough if Cech is unavailable or would Ospina be the safer option? Both are good keepers capable of being worthy challengers for Cech. Both can also improve during Cech’s tenure at Arsenal. With both at a similar stage in their careers; mid-twenties and regular internationals, the question is, who is worth keeping? This is the Arsenal manager’s first tough decision of the summer transfer window as he seeks to assemble a title winning squad. How he handles the situation could have an impact on Arsenal’s season.

 

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Majid

    June 28, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    being a home-grown player gives the polish keeper much more advantage of staying.

  2. the fourjustmen

    June 28, 2015 at 10:17 am

    Simple. Cech for PL and CL fixtures and Ospina for FA and other cups. Sell the polish goal keeper.

    • Christopher Harris

      June 28, 2015 at 10:53 am

      Ospina deserves to be a starter for a top level club. He shouldn’t be settling for FA Cup or League Cup games against lesser opposition.

      You may as well as keep Scznesny as back-up and sell Ospina.

      • jtm371

        June 28, 2015 at 11:10 am

        Ospina would look good in a Swans shirt. 🙂

        • Christopher Harris

          June 28, 2015 at 12:00 pm

          He would, but we have Fabianski plus we just signed a Swedish goalkeeper for back-up, so we’re sorted!

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