Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be previewing the Arsenal 2018-2019 squad. I’ll do four total, focusing on attack, midfield, defense and, for the first edition, the goalkeepers.
Like the rest of the team, Arsenal’s ‘keepers struggled mightily at times last season. Hopefully, a new head coach in Unai Emery, as well as a few squad changes, will lead to better results.
Previewing the Arsenal 2018-2019 Squad: Between the Sticks
The Czech shot-stopper recently received the number one shirt at the Emirates, despite being the starter between the sticks since his arrival from Chelsea in 2015. However, due to a few different factors, this role is being questioned, especially over the long term.
First of all, there is the issue of quality. While Petr Cech is certainly still among the league’s best ‘keepers, his performances have declined since he arrived in north London. A league-leading five errors leading to goals last season illustrates this point. His passing is also not to the standard expected from a modern ‘keeper, who are all generally expected to be nearly as sure-footed as an outfield player.
Second, there is the issue of age. Cech turned 36 in May, and while the likes of Edwin van der Saar and Mark Schwarzer played in the Premier League until after their 40th birthdays, there are plenty more who had to drop a division or change leagues to get minutes in their late 30s.
Finally, the issue of his contract. Not only is it very lucrative, rumored to be over six figures per week, but it only runs until 2019. Just like Jack Wilshere weeks ago, Cech will be free to change clubs on a free come the summer.
All of this points towards a lack of longevity at the club. I discussed in a previous article why you should expect to see Petr Cech as the regular starter this season, however that won’t be the case for long. Say your goodbyes while you can, Gooners.
The German joined Arsenal this summer from Bayer Leverkusen for £20+ million. That price tag alone would make one think that he will be the de-facto number one in north London next season, however, this is the modern game.
Such a price tag is almost paltry compared to those which have changed hands for the likes of Neymar, Dembele or even Virgil van Dijk. Plus, this will be the transfer compared against Alisson’s record-shattering move to Liverpool, expected to go through at any moment.
There is also the issue of a new team in a new league. This is certainly cliche, however the Premier Leauge is difficult to get used to. At least, more difficult than changing your surroundings would normally be. Think of Granit Xhaka’s first year at Arsenal. He earned a few really deserved red cards for very late challenges, drawing fans’ ire. However, this past season, he became a rock in the midfield, despite a few hiccups, and logged over 3,000 minutes.
With a deep run expected in the Europa League with plenty of matches for all, allowing the German to settle gradually is not only a possibility, but a great idea.
This section will probably go stale quickly. Oh well, here it goes. Don’t expect to see Ospina in north London for much longer. Not only will his contract expire next season, but a certain German appears to be ahead of him in the pecking order already.
The Colombian really saved our collective bacon on a few occasions during his time with the club. However, he just couldn’t impress enough to win over that elusive number one shirt. Ospina is consistently linked with a move away to Turkey, Besiktas is the flavor of the month right now, where he would be a first-choice ‘keeper.
To be frank, he deserves it. And I really can’t think of one single reason he would stay a Gunner for next season.
Thanks for the memories, David!
With Cech and Leno sure to be the primary and secondary ‘keepers, there can be only one more shot-stopper on the squad. So, it’s down to Emi Martinez and Matt Macey for who gets the early rounds of the Carabao Cup, the traditional duty of a number three.
Martinez is the elder of the two, turning 26 in September. He has been at the club since 2012, yet has only managed 13 starts across all competitions. The Argentine has spent time away on loan at Oxford, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham, Wolves and, most recently, Getafe. Across all these years, the player has ammassed 57 appearances. Looks like more than just one manager thinks he’s not quite ready.
While 26-years-old is not old, especially for a ‘keeper, let’s compare that to some other Arsenal goalies at the same age. Wojciech Szczesny already had over a century of Arsenal appearances to his name, and was in the process of being one of the most impressive ‘keepers in Serie A while on loan at Roma.
Petr Cech was struggling a bit with injuries at Chelsea when he was 26, but made the Champions League final, which the Blues lost. Meanwhile, David Ospina had just supplanted Szczesny as the number one at Arsenal, that is until one Petr Cech showed up at the club.
No doubt Martinez is behind the curve when it comes to development. However, I am a believer in late bloomers. I say give him one last season to prove what he is made of and hand Martinez the number three role.
Macey also has a birthday in September, but he will only turn 24. As such, he should get a little more leeway than Martinez, as he hasn’t had the time to impress yet. Macey got the number three role last season, and played some decent ‘keeper in the Carabao Cup.
He’s already gotten two loans spells since joining from Blackburn, but only got 15 appearances between them. So, the verdict with Macey is to give him another loan, affording him regular football in a lower division.
This would not only allow Emery to “trial” Martinez, but also give a bit more experience to who may become the number two for a few years. Don’t forget that Ospina is likely leaving, Cech is on his last year of his contract and Martinez, as far as I’m concerned, is on his last chance.
That would leave just Leno and Macey out of a field of five remaining at the club next summer. Let him go and get minutes.
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