Arsenal’s season in review : the keepers

By Walter Broeckx

How can we pass the time in those boring weeks that Arsenal doesn’t play ?

Why don’t we try to compare the different players a bit and see how they have done in the last season. I will try to work my way through the various positions on the field and see how players have performed during last season. I suggest we will start with the goalkeepers.

I would have liked to do it with the 3 keepers that have played but for some unknown reason the detailed stats of Martinez are not at our disposal. Maybe a sign of him leaving the club this summer? Macey is in the list but not Martinez.

Anyway let me start with him and say that he got 5 starts and came on once. So in total playing in 6 matches and in those 6 matches he kept 2 clean sheets. Or if you like it more in percentages a clean sheet ratio of 33.33%. I would have loved to give you more but alas I didn’t find it so I will leave him out and concentrate on the 2 major goalkeepers of last season: Szczesny and Oooooospina.

Wojciech Szczesny Compared to David Ospina
17 Games played 18
1499 Minutes Played 1620
17 Starts 18
21 Goals conceded 11
71.4 Mins per goal conceded 147.3
3 Clean sheets 8
17.64 % Clean sheets % 44.44%
45 Saves 47
2.7 Saves per 90 mins 2.6
68.2% Shots saved 81%
24 Catches 38
2 Punches 10
0 Penalties conceded 0
3 Fouls won 2
0 Fouls conceded 0
1 Yellow cards 0
0 Red Cards 0


So when we look at the numbers from just the PL games we see that both keepers played almost the same number of games. So we have some nice material to compare both of them. The missing 3 matches were played by Martinez by the way.

Ospina played one more match than Szczesny did.  But in minutes there is more than 90 minutes difference as Szczesny had to come off injured against United and Martinez took his place. When they played they started the match during this season.

But now the important stats: Goals conceded. And then we see that Ospina despite having played only 1 match more he conceded only 11 goals and Szczesny conceded 21 goals.  If we compare both of them on a minute per minute basis we see that Szczesny almost always conceded a goal (one every 71,4 minutes) and that to beat Ospina it took more than 1 match most of the time.

But Szcesny had 3 clean sheets but Ospina had 8 clean sheets in the PL.  If we show this in percentages we see that Szczesny had a 17,64% of a clean sheet in his matches and Ospina a rather impressive 44,44% of clean sheets!

If and this is of course a tricky way of doing it we could have had either keeper in goal for the full 38 matches this could (could I say) have resulted in Szczesny having 6 or 7 clean sheets and Ospina in 16 or 17 clean sheets over a whole season.

That number of Ospina looks amazingly good to me. Very impressive! But of course not written in stone.

In the time they played they had around the same numbers of saves. Just a difference of 2 saves and as the average was for both keepers saving 2-3 shots per match this is completely in line with Ospina having played one more match. But the shots saved ratio is again very much in favour of Ospina.

If I look at the statistics I must say that up to now Ospina has been better and even dare I say much better than Szczesny last season.

And if we continue with the number of catches both made we see that again Ospina has made more catches than Szczesny.  And when it comes to punches we see again that Ospina has made more punches than Szczesny. So it looks that even on crosses Ospina has been a more influential player than Szczesny.

One other good thing is that neither keeper has conceded a penalty in the PL. Always good this as it means that they usually kept a cool head when needed.

So could we come to the final conclusion that Ospina despite being smaller than Szczesny has done much better on all statistical facts that usually are used to define keepers? I would say : yes.

Does this mean that Szczesny has been rubbish last season? I say: NO!

Because we have to keep in mind that when Szczesny played in the early parts of the season till the first of January we were suffering a lot of injuries. Also defensive injuries with the likes of Koscielny being not always available. So we have to keep in mind that it might have been different if Szczesny would have had a more stable set of defenders in front of him.

We might have ended up with the reversal numbers if Ospina had played in the opening months of the season. Because I do remember that in most games Szczesny played rather well and even picked up a few points for us in some matches at times.

So the stats of Ospina look much better and even impressive. But surely this will not lead me to saying that Szczesny is rubbish.  Having a complete back 4 in front of you can be of the highest importance for a keeper to perform. Ospina had that, Szczesny not.

My personal impression is that Ospina really is a good keeper despite some doubting his height.  He is 13 cm shorter than Szczesny but he sure has other qualities like being a bit more calm and relaxed in some situations.  His height might cost him when it comes to crosses but he usually (apart from the last goal we conceded) knows when to come and when to stay on his line with crosses. Look at his stats of catches and punches.

Both are also rather young with Ospina being 27 and Szczesny 25. So both still have around 10 years in front of them and maybe even more.  So I am looking forward to next season with a fierce battle between the two of them. My prediction is that Szczesny will start the season (because of Ospina playing in that bloody stupid tournament in South America) and then he will know that he has to be on his toes to keep his place.

Unless some other keeper comes in of course…..then the battle might be completely different again.


“The dignity and fairness of the British press”


25 Replies to “Arsenal’s season in review : the keepers”

  1. As soon as I read ”Szczesny has had a poor season this year.” I stop reading the piece I am reading for I know the writer is writing with a context.

    As you say Szczesny had a difficult season this year with an ever changing back four in front of him. Therefore its not surprising that stats for him do not compare so favorably as they might have done.

    I felt for Szczesny at the 2014 Cup Final. We played our first choice players except for Szczesny. That must have hurt.

    I like OOOOOOspina I am glad he plays for us.
    Szczesny is already part of the fabric of Arsenal and long may it be so

  2. I’m not qualified to judge who is the better goalie, Even statistics can be misleading because they don’t show the quality of the goals each has conceded.
    All I will say is that Szczesny’s presence in the Cup Final only emphasised the slightly smaller frame of Ospina. 😉

  3. I am in the Szczesny camp. As has been alluded to. the stats could have been rather different if he had played with Koscielny and Coquelin in front of him more frequently. They are both good keepers and neither is a real liability. Szczesny is more liable to make a stupid mistake but I also feel he has more potential to have a great game. Indeed the best goalkeeping performance by anyone that I have seen this season was when he kept a brilliant clean sheet as Poland beat Germany.

  4. You are on point there Walter. Competition between them will be very interesting next season which bodes well for Arsenal.

    …Except if some ‘C’ named goalkeeper jumps in to threaten Martinez’ place in 3rd.

    I’m looking forward to articles on other outfield positions.

  5. Szczesny is a superbly fit individual. He has issues that might destroy his position as GK to Arsenal. He needs to clean up his act & focus on his job. His positioning needs to be more conservative. He tends to wander to far from his goal.

    He has great prospects if he stays focused. Ooooooospina is the real deal & will keep Szczesny on his toes.

  6. Szczesny’s best game was the one at Anfield in 2011-12 when we turned 1:0 deficit into 2:1 victory. Szczesny single-handedly kept us in the game while Koscielny and Vermaelen had a shocker. We should have been four goals down before the break but Szczesny did wonders between the sticks including a double save at Kuyt’s penalty.

    However, as Menace pointed out, Szczesny needs to focus on football and football only. Screw Instagram, Facebook and funny banters. Take a page out of Jens Lehmann’s book (not the one with madness) and, for example, make yourself a database of all players in the league – how they take penalties. He is still 25.

  7. Ospina & Szczesny are both good keepers, but not among the best in the Premier League where there are at least four better. We should be aiming to have the best and in the past often did.
    I couldn’t say if Cech has regressed ( but doubt it ) as I’ve hardly seen him since before the World Cup when he was one of the top three Premier League keepers. He should now be in his prime and be looking forward to another five years at least.
    If we get the chance I say take him and put him straight into the first team and rotate with Ospina when necessary (and let Szczesny go on loan or transfer out completely). He would be a major asset.

  8. Thanks for this well articulated statistics article on Arsenal goalkeepers. I must confess that I am least boored with no Arsenal games to watch on the Tele. I too like the Boss and the Gunners is observing the off season. The Boss, the Gunners, the Arsenal technical, medical and management staff deserve at least a 40 days annual leave to rest and recharge their battries for next season hard work. If the Argentine Martinez stats cannot be located at Arsenal, that means something is fishy as you have observed. A loanee to Rotherham FC, Martinez had fell out of favour with the Boss after he conceded 3 goals away to Stoke City despite his ambition to nail down a regular start in d starting X1. With this stats of yours, one could conclude that Szczesny and Ospina are at parity in goalkeeping job for Arsenal last season. But the problem with Szcz’ is, he is stubborn as he continues to smoke. With Macey likely to start as the 3rd choice keeper next season, let’s keep our fingers crossed to see what the Boss does.

  9. what is this bloody fascination with Cech, a second choice keeper, who couldnt win his place back. ANd what shite those some fans come up with. We have a great team, it will be mega tough to upgrade on any of them.

  10. Oisin
    Not a fascination at all.
    Cech is being kept out by one of the top two keepers in the world and needs regular playing time. I doubt if he’s lost his edge and think he’d be a worthy purchace for us……at the right price of course.

  11. Read the papers you numpties.

    We have 2 crap keepers.

    A centre half with the turning circle of a super tanker.

    No holding midfielders of good enough quality.

    No strikers capable of scoring enough goals to challenge for the title.

    Oh, and NO LEADERS.

    We are crap and only a major overhaul will give us any chance.


    Is that what it feels like on the dark side? 🙂

  12. I really rate both our keepers, Martinez did alright when I saw him as well. Ospina….height, think he is,about the same height as the great Peter Shilton. In fairness, Ospina may have benefitted from better defensive stability in the second half of the season but by any standards, he has done extremely well.
    Have always rated the talent that is Szcz, his performance in the FA Cup was impressive. All I read about before concerned the media obsession with Benteke, an obsession that suggests he will soon be a Liverpool or Spurs player. All I can say is that our defence, and our keeper kept him very very quiet, quite a feat if he is the player the media and some of the AAA suggest he is.
    May be proven horribly wrong, but have long held the impression Wenger rates the Pole, and has dished out some tough love for his own good, happy to let the media go with their stories as part of teaching him a lesson.
    If Cech Casillas Begovich or for that matter, Zoff comes in, good luck to them but I would not be too disappointed to see the two we have fighting for the number one spot.

  13. Oooops. Sorry Gunnerjoe.

    Also, despite a squad worth 4 times what he spent on it he doesn’t do very well in the transfer market.

    He’s ‘indecisive’, spends too much time on the beach, and does too many last minute panic buys.

    Obviously, he’s the wrong man for the job.

  14. Also, Jambug, you missed Wilshere needing to move to realise his full potential and stop inviting injurious tackles, plus Walcott lacking a football brain to accompany his speed. Plus Ozil proving a total let-down in the view of most Arsenal fans.

    We are so crap that we can only manage 2 successive FA Cup wins, which, as most Arsenal fans know, don’t really count as proper trophies.

    PS For any doubters, this is an attempt at a shared irony.

  15. About Čech…

    Here is a thing: I rate him very, very highly. For me, he is one of the best goalkeepers of all times. Now, that doesn’t mean he can’t make a mistake.

    Find that goal Gallas scored for us in 1:0 victory in 2007-08 (probably should have been disallowed as Gallas pushed Ben Haim before heading the ball home). Čech missed the ball completely after the corner and Chelsea were punished for that. They missed on a title for two points, mind you. If Szczesny or Ospina had conceded that sort of a goal in a six-pointer, they would have been crucified.

  16. John i agree.

    Look at Szczesny in final, he punched quite a few balls. I think both keepers are already learning from one another.
    I personally do not want Cech, and what makes one think he will be always a first starter? If AW gets another keeper(or Cech) one of our 3 will surely want to leave, but i suppose AW will know this and desires that.

    June 12, 2015 at 5:37 pm
    Agree wholeheartedly.

  17. And he speaks ‘German’ and he learnt his football in Japan!!!

    ‘what does a French man from Japan to know about English football?’ To quote an ex manager with a red nose.

    Perhaps one day ‘Little Englander’ will learn that football isn’t just an English game.

  18. I wonder about the suggestion that better goal keeping coaching might be what is needed? It is much harder to assess as we don’t know what goes on each week in training. But it is so competitive at the top all aspects have to be considered and work at getting the best coaches is key.

    Rosicky indicated that some changes in training had resulted in better defending in second half of the season. He did not reveal to the press what those changes were but it gives us a clue how training is managed does have an impact.

  19. Per said something similar Mark. Coaching always moves on, don’t know enough about our individual coaches to comment, but this club needs the very best

  20. I always think Szczesny can be the world’s best GK. However, there are things players cannot be trained, coached or taught. Not even by Wenger. That’s the X-factor, the presence and leadership. These things comes in time. The subs bench might help Szczesny to obtain that. Not to take anything away from Ospina, but Szczesny will eventually become an Arsenal legend if he really wants to.

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