David Ospina has revealed that Arsene Wenger made it clear he would be warming the Arsenal bench and behind Wojciech Szczesny in the pecking order when he signed from Nice in the summer.
Despite arriving with a good reputation with the fan base after his stellar World Cup with Colombia, not much was known about the Colombian and it was quite a shock to see such a prominent goalkeeper resign himself to the bench after a career spent starting every game.
“When I signed, he was very clear on that with me,” Ospina told the Guardian. “But in my mind I was coming to Arsenal and I wanted to show what I could do.
“In truth, when you get used to playing all the time and being on stage, you always want to do that,” he said. “And so, when it’s not like that, it is a difficult time.
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“But I think that when you are going through difficult times, you have to ensure that you are working twice as hard and you are always prepared.
“You have to hold your head up, too. You can’t be moping and all downtrodden. You need to be prepared in training during these difficult moments and just be ready to grasp any opportunity when it comes.”
The fact that a keeper who had been starting every game at his former club for over six years chose to come to a club where he wasn’t guaranteed game time and would first have to prove he was able rather than expect minutes speaks to the character and professionalism of Ospina.
A professionalism that you could say is sadly lacking in Wojciech Szczesny who was the architect of his own downfall following the Southampton debacle and the infamous cigarette in the showers that saw Ospina take is place in the starting XI.
Granted that at times Ospina has looked dodgy for want of a better word but the important face is these mistakes haven’t cost goals and furthermore he hasn’t let them get to him.
His commanding display against Everton showed a brilliant and decisive keeper with Ospina making a number of crucial saves and incredibly handling a breakaway chance for Romelu Lukaku – which saw the Colombian run to the edge of the box before tapping the ball clear as the Belgian looked to control it – with unprecedented calmness and poise.
Ospina will likely remain between the sticks for some time unless injury strikes again – he has had two major setbacks already this season that have kept him out for some time – with Szczesny resigned to the cup games.
But don’t let the circumstances of his first team promotion fool you, it is fully deserved.
His effervescence and penchant to punch instead of catch might not be to everyone’s liking but to join the club under the circumstances he did and to make the impact he has speaks of a model professional who deserves our respect.