It’s no surprise the club needs change. Perhaps change in players is not as high a priority as changes needed in the fitness team, coaching staff or administrative positions, but change is needed anyway. With the money and pull we have, Arsene Wenger has to make some tough decisions regarding player reinforcements. More than that, he has to reignite some excitement among the supporters on the back of what has been a largely boring season.
What can he do? A good summer will be a great start, but it must be done soon. Maneuvering in this transfer market will be somewhat difficult considering the truncated nature of it. The EURO’s will disrupt transfer valuations and stall negotiations (stellar betting tips here, by the way!). Keeping that in mind, he needs a solid plan and a clear idea of who he must include in his team, who he must do away with, and wrap that up as soon as possible.
Today, I’ll look at the goalkeepers and give my opinions – insignificant as they are – on who we should keep, who should improve and who we could sign. Without further ado, here we go.
Petr Cech: Won the Golden Glove, which was good, but despite that there have been arguments that he could have done much better. While I agree there have been times where his abilities failed himself (the amount of near-post goals he conceded were astonishing), every keeper is forgiven a few mishaps in a season. On the whole, he’s been solid and a decent upgrade on Szczesny and Ospina.
As a first-choice keeper, I’d keep him.
David Ospina: To be honest, there are parts of him that don’t convince me at all. I’ve made them clear, even this time last year, when it felt like he was infinitely superior to Szczesny. His diving is too Hollywoody – so to say – and his kicking is questionable. Nevertheless, aside from a couple of crummy Champions League performances, Ospina has not really been monumentally terrible. If I forgave Cech for some nightmares, surely I can’t be a hypocrite to Ospina.
He hasn’t done anything astronomical enough to be a lightning rod this season, but Ospina strikes me as an accident waiting to happen. He doesn’t have an element of reliability in him, always a hugely worrying sign in a goalkeeper. I wouldn’t be desperate to sell him – he’s quite all right as second fiddle – but if an offer arrived, it’d be tough to refuse, especially with Wojciech in the ranks.
Wojciech Szczesny: All my faith I had in Szczesny was rendered irrelevant the day Arsenal signed Cech. Szczesny and Ospina aren’t the worst goalkeepers in the world by any stretch, but it was clear they could be upgraded, and to see Arsene be ruthless enough to do it was heartening. Signing Cech meant that Szczesny was shipped off to Roma; not a death sentence, but not exactly a vote of confidence either. Unless Wenger wants to send Szczesny out on loan again (and cloud the situation further), it’s quite possible one of Szczesny or Ospina will be sold in the summer, since the club doesn’t have the space to keep both of them.
Between Szczesny and Ospina, I feel Szczesny is the superior keeper. His attitude is obviously a problem to some, and that’s an argument having a lot of basis in reality, but people forget what an excellent keeper he was between 2011 and 2014. He’s more of an Arsenal through-and-through than Ospina, is a popular dressing room figure, and judging by some of his Instagram posts, is still obviously tied well with the ethos of the club. His behaviour at St. Mary’s Stadium was disgraceful – no two ways around it – but maybe a year of exile has disciplined him?
It’s definitely too soon to be looking at a goalkeeper. Petr Cech had his Almunia moments but on the whole, anchored the goalkeeping situation adeptly. Szczesny and Ospina aren’t terrible backups, but someone or the other is going to make way, and even if it is Szczesny, I wouldn’t be overly disappointed about that.
There we go. If time permits me, tomorrow I will take a look at the defenders and wonder who should be kept on. That will be fun, won’t it?
-Santi [Follow me on Twitter @ArsenalBlogz ]