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The Arsenal Goalkeeping Conundrum: we simply have too many of them.

by Andrew Crawshaw

Arsenal have too many goalkeepers.

Every year we have new ones who can no longer play for the U18s and have to move up to the U23s, also one (or more) have to be included in our senior 25 man squad once they are over 21 if they are to be retained by the club.

You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to realise that this will lead to a number of players not being retained by the club, particularly as goalkeepers are perfectly capable of playing high class football until their late 30’s (Bouffon at Juventus is 39 and is planning on staying active for at least one more season).

This coming season Arsenal will play 6 games in pre-season, the FA Community Shield against Chelsea on 06 August, 38 league games, and (assuming we reach the semi-finals of the Europa League, the League Cup and FA Cup) 24 Cup games.  That’s 69 games in total (give or take a few).  We will have two games a week for much of the season.

Arsenal currently have 5 goalkeepers who would need to occupy 25 man over 21 squad places if retained.  In my opinion, we really only need three goalkeepers with the first team squad; one for the League games, a second for the cup games and a backup in case of injury, fatigue or loss of form.  One keeper has the main job of ensuring that we are in the hunt for the Premier League trophy, the second has the main job of seeing that we win the Europa League and EFL Cup, I would also expect him to be the keeper for the FA Cup up to the quarter finals with the manager to take the decision over who is to be in charge for semi and final.

If you pay any attention to the blogettas, you would think that we are in the middle of a goalkeeping crisis and in urgent need of buying in a competent new one as :-

  • Cech is too old and rapidly going senile
  • Oooospina is useless and is bound to leave this summer
  • Szczesny is staying in Italy, isn’t good enough, smokes and has fallen out with Arsène
  • Martinez hasn’t the experience, is too young
  • Macey – who’s he?

As you know, here at Untold we try to do our research before putting fingers to keyboard so I have spent a couple of hours looking at not only our five keepers mentioned above, but also those from our main PL rivals (and some others who are of interest).

Here are some basic statistics to enable some comparisons to be made between our players – the player values I have taken from transfermarkt.com (they may not be right but should at least be consistently wrong)

Value £m Age Height (m) Foot PL League whoscored.com data
Games Mins Clean  sheets score rank
Petr Cech 8.5 35 1.96 left 35 3098 12 6.94 4
David Ospina 5.95 28 1.83 right 1 90 0 6.93 5
Emi Martinez 0.85 24 1.93 right 2 180 1 6.65 21
Matt Macey 0.425 22 1.99 right 0
Wojciech Szcznesny 14.45 27 1.96 right 38 3420 6.99 6 (Serie A)

So Szcz is probably the most valuable of our goalkeepers, Cech and Ospina have virtually identical rankings based on their performances and were Nos 4 and 5 in the PL last season, Emi Martinez had one clean sheet in his two appearances and Szcz had a higher ranking than any of the others from his 38 games in Italy.

Not too shabby then but how do they compare with keepers playing for our rivals?

Value £m Age Height (m) Foot PL League whoscored.com data
Games Mins Clean  sheets score rank
Chelsea
Thibaut Courtois 34.0 25 1.99 left 36 3240 16 6.74 13
Asmir Begovic 6.8 30 1.98 right 2 180 0 5.67 41
Eduardo 1.28 34 1.88 right 0
Jamal Blavkman 0.213 23 1.99 right 0
Tottenham
Hugo Lloris 20.4 30 1.88 left 34 3005 15 6.77 12
Michel Vorm 4.25 33 1.83 right 4 360 2 6.44 33
Pao López 1.28 22 1.89 left
Liverpool
Simon Mignolet 8.5 29 1.93 right 28 2520 9 6.72 15
Loris Karius 6.8 24 1.90 right 10 900 3 6.34 37
Danny Ward 1.28 24 1.91 right
Ádám Bogdán 0.85 29 1.94 right
Man City
Claudio Bravo 10.2 34 1.84 right 22 1969 5 6.38 36
Willy Caballero 1.7 35 1.86 right 16 1440 6 6.73 14
Angus Gunn 0.213 21 1.96 right
Man United
David de Gea 34.0 26 1.89 right 35 3150 14 6.57 27
Sergio Romero 4.25 30 1.92 right 2 180 2 8.17 1
Sam Johnstone 0.425 24 1.93 right
Joel Pereira 1 90 0 6.78 7
Leicester
Kasper Schmeichel 6.8 30 1.85 right 30 2667 8 6.84 6
Ron-Robert Zieler 5.95 28 1.88 right 8 720 1 6.25 40
Ben Hamer 0.425 29 1.93 right
Sunderland
Jordan Pickford 4.25 23 1.85 left 29 2610 4 7.04 2
Vito Mannone 2.13 29 1.88 right 9 810 2 6.63 26
Mika 1.7 26 1.95 left

I included Sunderland in the above table because of the recent £30m transfer of Jordan Pickford to Everton.  His transfermarkt.com valuation was only £4.25 so on first glance Everton have paid well over the odds for him.  However, his score and ranking from whoscored.com put him as the second best in the country (7.04) and only bettered by Sergio Romero (8.17) who played in just two PL games for Man United.  On the basis of his performances it is possible to see some logic in the valuation for an English player.

I included Leicester because I saw a call for us to sign Schmeichel in one of the blogettas and my initial thought was that he wouldn’t be an improvement.  This is borne out by the whoscored.com rating which is similar but below all of our top three keepers.

Of all of the goalkeepers, Cortois and De Gea are the most valuable each rated at £34m, Matt Macey, Courtois and Blavkman are the tallest at 1.99m (6ft 61/2in) and Ospina along with Vorm is the shortest at 1.83m (6ft and 1/2in).

Decisions decisions

Arsenal don’t need 5 first team goalkeepers and even if we did, we couldn’t accommodate them in our 25 man squad.  We therefore need to lose at least two and possibly three of out top 5 before we need to name our 25 man senior squad for next season.

There seems to be little to chose between Cech, Ospina and Szczesny in terms of their performances last season, whoscored.com data has them with performance scores of 6.94, 6.93 and 6.99 respectively and all would have been in the top six in the PL last season.  Is there a way to retain two of them and keep them happy?

At 35 years of age Cech should be in perfectly good shape to continue at the top level for next season at least.  If he would be happy to be our keeper for the Europa League and both Domestic Cups that would probably make the situation a lot easier for the club.  That would then allow either Ospina or Szczesney to be our PL keeper, which I believe would be the best possible outcome for the club.  This would mean that either Ospina or Szcz would be sold.

If Cech isn’t happy with this change of role/status then probably both Ospina and Szczesny will have be sold.  Both will be looking to be the main league keeper at a club in the season leading up to the World Cup next summer.

Once these issues are resolved, the club then need to move on to the situations that Martinez and Macey are in.  Both need regular games in a competitive league to progress and make the case for retention in a couple of years once Cech retires.  I would be looking for a loan spell at a club like Roma for Martinez (the grounding it has given Szcz seems to have been excellent) and probably keep Macey here next year as our No3 keeper.

I wouldn’t be averse to selling either of them were that to be their wish as long term I cannot see there being an Arsenal future for both of them.

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3 comments to The Arsenal Goalkeeping Conundrum: we simply have too many of them.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I don’t see any problem that’ll make Le Prof scratch his head much on which of his 3 top goalkeepers should preferably manned the post for Arsenal in pecking order in next season’s campaign.

    Not the least, for heaven’s sake why have Arsenal.decided to put up Szczesny for sale this summer, after loaning him out to Roma where he has vastly said to have improved on his goalkeeping prowess? And during his 2 loan spells at Roma, he has been reported to have married his longtime girlfriend and jettisoned smoking for goods, according to media reports. If technically, maritally and socially Szczesny has improved on his job an on his life style while at Roma is a true report of him. I think Le Prof should forgive him his past smoking habits which apparently Le Prof seemingly looked to have forgiven him. Let Le Prof takes a bold decision to retain him in his 25 man team for next season’s campaign instead of trying to sell him to Jeventus who have been reported in the media to have submitted a ridiculous £7m bid for his transfer from Arsenal to them while Arsenal are reported to be holding out for £20m. Please Le Prof, don’t sell Szczesny. Give him another chance if he wants to still keep for Arsenal..

    If I have a selection choice to make on which our 3 top goalkeepers should be pecked in pecking order for our League and Cup games campaigns next season which of course I don’t have such a choice to make. But nonetheless, I will preferred if Le Prof will still peck Petr Cech as our PL goalkeeper next season. (But he couldn’t save penalty shots in PL games last season). Szczesny should be pecked as our Europa Cup and League Cup/FA Cup games while Mat Macey for his height advantage and for his developmental first team football progress should be pecked as our back up or No3 goalkeeper. Right?

    Sorry! The onus to be sold or loan out this summer has fallen on David Ospina. Oh dear me. Being a manager who rely on statistics as prove to convince him in his decision making I’ll suppose, therefore, I think Le Prof should take into cognizant first, that transfermarkt.com stastical goalkeeping evaluation of his 3 top goalkeepers to see who among them is ranked better before taking decision on which of them should be sold or loan out this summer. But would Ospina agrees to be loaned out, why shouldn’t he? Is he god of football?

  • I think Szcznesny and Cech should remain coz that way we can have expirienced and good keepers with one able to serve us for long..

  • Oludotun

    Good article. You seem to have real trouble with Szczesny’s name though.

    I’ll prefer we bring back Szczesny as No 1 for the league….he has become better and had World Cup motivation. Czech should be the Cup keeper and there looks to be enough games for the No 2.

    Ospina should be sold simply because he’s a National team No 1 and needs the first team shirt for the World Cup. He is not the best we have at Arsenal.

    Martinez should be sent out on loan to ensure regular first team football and then bring him back while Cech ends his career.

    We don’t have any goalkeeping problem as the media are suggesting.

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