Arsenal are finally spending money on quality players. That fact in itself is a promising sign of a new regime led by Sven Mislintat and Raul Sanllehi. It’s no accident that Arsenal recruited former Dortmund duo Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan to bolster the clubs attacking options in the wake of Alexis Sanchez’s departure, and although new stars like Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan and Lacazette provide brilliant attacking options, Arsenal’s struggles begin at the back. It’s clear that the Gunners need significant upgrades in defense, but one area that has been overlooked for the past few seasons has been the goalkeeper position.
When Petr Cech first arrived at the Emirates in the summer of 2015, it was exactly the type of move Arsenal’s squad needed. A proven winner, leader, and legend whose experience made up for age. At the time, Arsenal only had Ospina and Szczesny on the books, both of whom failed to grab hold of the number one spot in the first XI. During the 2016/17 season and even more noticeably in this years Premier League campaign, goalkeeper has become a position of weakness and inconsistency at Arsenal. Plain and simple, Petr Cech has not maintained expectations. His first year as a Gunner proved fruitful and solidified what had been a shaky position over previous seasons, but over the past 18 months, his performances have consistently fallen short of the mark. Known for his mistake free play during the entirety of his career, Cech has seemingly made a horrendous error every other week. Not all of them have lead to goals, but it appears his most recent error against Swansea was the last straw. Cech has made four errors leading to a goal this season, more than any other player. Arsenal lead the Premier League with 11 errors leading to goals, but Cech’s have certainly been the most noticeable.
Since before the start of the season, I’ve been clamoring for a legitimate heir apparent or full time replacement in goal. Petr Cech is losing his edge by the day and David Ospina has been so firmly placed as the number two, that even his sharpness in Cup and European matches has come into question. With the defensive frailty Arsenal have shown recently, the last thing the club can afford is a keeper who causes problems. Cech’s frequent errors, poor distribution, and weak clearances have caused Arsenal significant issues all year long; not to mention his dreadful and frankly comical penalty record. 15 faced, none saved. In fact, Arsenal goalkeepers have failed to save their last 23 penalties faced over a nearly five-year period in the Premier League. Something needs to change, and although it should have happened last summer or over the January window, this summer it must be addressed.
Arsenal made the first step towards fixing their goalkeeping woes with the signing of Jens Lehman to the first team staff, now they need to go into the market and spend money on the right keeper. Whether it’s an established keeper such as Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen, Roma’s Alisson, or recently rumoured Jan Oblak from Atletico Madrid, or perhaps even a younger talent like Alban Lafont, Arsenal need fresh blood in goal come this summer.
Let it be known that Petr Cech is a consummate professional and competitor, but Father Time remains undefeated. Arsenal need something new.