As the season comes to a close, focus turns to the summer transfer window, and one position in particular that is causing much debate among fans and the public alike.
Speculation remains rife regarding a move for a goalkeeper, and Chelsea’s Petr Cech (via the Daily Mail) is continuously linked with us – despite the fact that we currently have two internationals fighting for the position between the sticks.
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Arsene Wenger dismissing the need for a goalkeeper hasn’t stopped the rumours either, with the boss claiming that he’s happy with the performances of David Ospina.
“I believe in the goalkeepers I have,” Wenger told reporters last month (via The Evening Standard).
“I believe that [Wojciech] Szczesny is a very good goalkeeper and Ospina has come in and done a fantastic job. You look at the numbers in the Premier League and you look at who is top of all the goalkeepers and you will see it’s Ospina.”
Wenger’s last comment represents a drawback which has hindered us in the past – allowing ourselves to be fooled due to short-term results.
One cannot deny Ospina’s consistency since his inclusion in the team earlier in January, but Wenger’s reference to stats should be taken with a pinch of salt.
When analysing most of the Premier League’s first choice ‘keepers, Ospina has featured in the least amount of games which inevitably reflects positively in the stats.
There also remains one quality Ospina cannot improve on – which makes the potential availability of Cech an intriguing one for Wenger – his height.
It is clearly something which has played on the former Nice shot-stopper’s mind after he claimed that rival goalkeepers’ height was rather daunting for him.
“When I am in the tunnel and I see the opposition goalkeeper… I am forced to raise my head,” Ospina bemoaned (via the Express).
“In England, they are all two heads taller than me!
“They are 1.90m, maybe more! Courtois, De Gea, Hart… You laugh but really it puts a little pressure on.”
Ospina stands at just 6ft compared to Cech’s 6’5” frame, and in the Premier League, those little details could become decisive. The Colombian has an average claim success rate of just 93%, 17 goalkeepers who have played more than 10 league games have averaged better (via Squawka).
Despite his all-round efficiency, there have been a few occasions this season where Ospina’s lack of height has directly resulted in a goal, due to his inability to reach certain strikes.
This is in no-way a personal attack on Ospina, it’s the laws of physics. Whilst many were focusing on the referee’s decision not to award us a free-kick as Hull City pulled one back on Monday night, something about their goal didn’t seem right.
Stephen Quinn’s header was hardly a powerful one, and the fact that it bounced before heading into the net took further pace off the ball. Yet, a full-stretched Ospina couldn’t lay a glove on it.
It may seem like I’m clutching at straws, but these are the crucial moments which can define a season for a goalkeeper. If that attempt was coming towards Cech, we arguably would’ve witnessed a different outcome.
Cech has the stature and the commanding presence in between the sticks, which would enhance the confidence of our back-four and damage the hopes of the opposing teams in equal fashion.
We’re viewed as a soft touch by most of the Premier League, and one scenario could settle this debate. Hypothetically speaking, we are winning 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium in a crucial game, and Stoke City are getting ready to launch the ball into our area. Who would you rather have between the sticks – Cech or Ospina?