What a transfer this could be. Petr Cech has played between the sticks at Chelsea for over a decade, winning the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and countless other accolades. He is a hero in South West London and is undoubtedly a Chelsea-fan favourite. Let’s face it, he deserves it. The man holds the Premier League record for most clean sheets (breaking the record in a 2-0 win vs Hull in 2014) and was pivotal to Chelsea’s run to the Champs League final in 2012 when he saved a penalty vs Barcelona to propel them into the final vs Bayern Munich. He’s been there, done it, proved it, saved it, won it (that's enough) and got a bucket load of t-shirts (/scrum caps) for the pleasure – so why would Chelsea sell him to their Premier League title rivals Arsenal?
One man. Thibaut Courtois.
Courtois is an unbelievable talent and has shown his value both for Atletico Madrid and Chelsea since his move. In his first season at The Bridge he became a Premier League Champion and put in some mesmerizing performances to help Chelsea to Title success. All the while, Petr Cech watched from the bench, while those around him and the man himself knew full-well he was good enough to play for any club in Europe.
It’s this dilemma that has paved the way for Arsenal. Cech’s past-service for Chelsea has given him a free pass past Jose Mourinho and coupled with the fact his family is settled in London, makes Arsenal a fitting destination. This fortunate turn of events (if we’re to believe the Daily Mail) means Arsenal are about to take Cech to The Emirates for an £11million fee and £100k per week wages - an absolute bargain for the Gunners and a turn of events sure to see Mr Wenger and Ivan Gazides doing the Macarena through Emmanuel Eboue's front room. Random? Very.
But what does it really mean for Arsenal?
We think it means a huge deal to Arsenal. John Terry this week stated that Cech was worth between “12-15 points a season” thanks to his safe hands between the sticks. 12 points was the gap between Chelsea and Arsenal last season. Point one.
The last time Cech held the #1 spot at Chelsea (2013/2014), Cech conceded an average of 0.71 goals per game vs a league average of 1.38 – he kept clean sheets in 47% of games (53% at home) and conceded on average 0.58 home goals per game. Point two.
Comparing that to the two previous seasons at Arsenal, where Szczesny, Fabianski and Ospina played in goal. In 2013/14, Arsenal conceded 1.08 goals per game and kept clean sheets in 45% of matches. Not bad given the defensive stability at Arsenal a year ago. However, if you drill down, Arsenal were pummeled away from home by City (6-3), Liverpool (5-1) and Chelsea themselves (6-0). In fact, away from home Arsenal kept cleans sheets only 32% of the time vs Mr Cech’s 47% in the previous season – when Chelsea finished 3rd. Point three.
To go a step further, when Cortois took the reins in 2014, he only managed a clean sheet percentage of 45%, conceding 0.84 goals per game, despite sitting behind a title winning back-four. Arsenal improved somewhat in goals conceded per game (0.95 per game) but clean sheet percentage dropped to 34% - which pales in comparison to the man who made Stamford Bridge a fortress for so many years. Point made.
No one at Arsenal is saying Szczesny or Ospina are bad keepers. Ospina came in and did a job for Arsenal in helping them capture third place. Likewise, no one can doubt Szczesny’s shot stopping ability or self-confidence – but neither are ready to be Premier League winning keepers quite yet (what’s likely is Szczesny will be Cech’s understudy and have the chance to really learn from him, while Ospina will move on to Fenerbahce in search of first team football). Meanwhile, if Arsenal can secure Cech they will be getting a proven, world-class keeper who they can rely on to secure them the additional points required to really challenge for the title next season.
Thinking back to Arsenal’s encounter with Southampton at Christmas where they were beaten 2-0 to defensive errors, or back to the 1-0 defeat at home to Swansea (where Gomes rose to head Swansea a tame winner) – you immediately start to see where Petr Cech is going to save Arsenal points next season. Exciting stuff.
You’ll be lucky to find a bookie taking bets on Petr Cech to Arsenal now. What you can guarantee though is that if Chelsea sell Cech to Arsenal they will be handing Arsenal a huge boost to Arsenal's title winning credentials. Combining Cech's arrival with a few other fresh faces at the Emirates will lead to a strengthened Arsenal side - meaning better London rivalries, more teams in the pot for the Premier League and one hell of a year of football.
We can't wait to see this one go through and to next season's kick off.