What do we really know about Čech? And about Arsenal keepers.

By Tony Attwood

Starting with Petr Čech of course the big question is which musical instrument does he play? And the answer is percussion.

which should indeed give us confidence.

The potential arrival of a new goalkeeper (which may well have been confirmed by the time you read this or alternatively been proven to be complete and absolute rubbish, and I want you to remember that you first read it here that the deal was yet another invention) leads me to think of Arsenal and goalkeepers.

The story is that Wenger has a blind spot for keepers.  But in reality, utterly reliable goalkeepers are hard to find, and last year’s player of the year can be this year’s “I’d sell him if anyone would take him off my hands”.  Just look at Vito Mannone, once of Arsenal.

In the 2nd leg of the semi-final tie against Man U of the league cup in 2014 Mannone saved two penalties in the penalty shoot out and took Sunderland to Wembley.  On 22 April 2014, Mannone was named Sunderland Supporters Player of the Year.  On 29 May 2014, he was named the clubs official Player of the Year.

He was the obvious first choice until 18 October 2014 when he let in eight against Southampton (who at the time we were reliably informed were going into the Champions League in 2015).  Although reports said that it was the defence not the keeper at fault, he lost his place and hasn’t regained it.

But he was an Arsenal keeper and Wenger can’t pick keepers, according to many reports.  Or should that be that Arsenal can’t pick keepers but can pick up keepers.  After all in 1973 Tottenham’s goalkeeper of the day won the Football Wrtiers player of the year award.  In 1976 the same guy got the PFA award, the first goalkeeper ever to get it.

Then in August 1977 Tottenham sold him to Arsenal thinking he was far past his prime.  And he stayed with Arsenal for eight years, playing in four cup finals making 327 appearances for Arsenal, 237 of them in the League.  On 26 February 1983, he became the first player in the senior English game to play 1000 games.

OK, so maybe north London can’t judge who is and who isn’t a good goalkeeper and who will last.

Or… maybe we only get good goalkeepers when we get them from London.  Perhaps that is the lesson that the manager has learned.  Jennings as noted came from the Tiny Totts.  David Seaman, of whom it has been said, came from QPR for £1 million in 1990.

He was the man behind the famous back four, of whom it has also been said, and under the present manager he was the keeper who won two Doubles, and then in his very last match, another FA Cup.

Which reminds us of Mr Wenger’s goalkeeping most famous signing: Jens Lehmann, the only goalkeeper in top division history to have played in every game of a season and never once been on the losing side.  In short, the only Invincible who played every game.

His signing as I recall was no big deal, costing £1.5 million from Borussia Dortmund which resulted in numerous comments about how, if he was a decent keeper he would cost a lot more than that.  But he turned out to be good enough to be an Invincible.

Ah, but look at all the other goalkeepers Wenger has signed, people say.  To which I say, take a look at your history books.

Herbert Chapman used nine goalkeepers during his nine seasons at Arsenal which is quite a lot really especially since there were no substitutes in those days, although to be fair they did pick up more injuries.

Chapman kept two of the keepers used by his predecessor (Robson and Lewis) but then used three keepers in each and every season of his tenure save the last two, in which he used two.

And this wasn’t just a question of injuries.  In the championship year of 1930/1 Arsenal started with Keyser, had a sensational start to the season, played him for 12 games and then dropped him, for no footballing reason we can now discern, and for Keyser not to be seen again.

In fact it took seven years to Chapman to sign his one great keeper – Frank Moss.

Which brings us back to the reality.  Finding very good goalkeepers is tough.  Certainly Čech has been very good: he holds the Premier League record for fewest games required to reach 100 clean sheets (180), and the Czech professional league record of not conceding a goal in 903 competitive minutes.   Indeed during 2004/5 Čech went 1,025 minutes without conceding a goal – a Premier League record, at the time.

But that then takes us back to other memories.  Like Alex Manninger.

During 1997/8 he took over from Seaman who was injured, and had six clean sheets in a row including in the last match the 0-1 win at Old Trafford.

In March 1998, he was named Premier League Player of the Month.   Then Seaman came back and immediately Manninger was dropped even though he played that significant part in us winning the double.

All of which is to say, when it comes to judging goalkeepers, I am not really sure who can do it, apart from with the luxury of looking backwards.  If, as seems the case, Ospina is to make way (perhaps because of the home grown rule) then someone at some time in the future will look at the record of Ospina in goal for Arsenal and wonder how we could let go a player who had such a terrific record.

I’ll also miss him, if he is going, because I think he had the best chant / song / shout I’ve heard in a long time.  And because I think he is a superb keeper.  But then clean sheets and victories really has not much to do with it, as Alex Manninger’s achievement showed us.

One last time (maybe): Oooooooooooooooooooooooooopina!

Anniversary of the day

23 June 1976: Patrick Vieira born in Dakar, Senegal.  Qualifying for French citizenship he played for Cannes, and made two appearances for Milan before they unexpectedly released him, and Mr Wenger bought him, while he was still managing in Japan.

More Untold

More History of Arsenal

More Twits @UntoldArsenal


34 Replies to “What do we really know about Čech? And about Arsenal keepers.”

  1. I ‘ d really would like us to pass up on this one . Cech was good at one point , but I ‘d like to think that the keepers we have now , have what it takes to get us further.
    I wouldn’t give any money to Chelski and their weird manager .

  2. What we know about Cech is that he was once Chelsea’s No1 goalie but isn’t that anymore. He sustained a serious head injury on the field and now wears a protective skull cap.
    If he isn’t good enough to play for Chelsea, why should he be allegedly sought by a better footballing side like Arsenal? 😉

  3. People who claim to know much more about keepers than me say Cech will be a top signing, ultra professional, a good influence on those around him, perhaps bringing with him his coach , supposedly one of the worlds best, but guess we have to wait and see. I like Ospina a lot on what I have seen this season, but as ever, can only trust Wenger and co are doing what they believe to be the right thing.
    I also think Szcz is a massively talented keeper, but assuming Cech is coming, I would guess there are flaws in him that maybe need a bit more help in ironing out, and as Monreal recently indicated , perhaps non sporting flaws.
    Bob Wilson tweeted it is a done deal, but if this is not the case, can imagine Jose is somewhere plotting a last minute attempt to derail it if he rates this keeper as highly as most seem to.
    It is not easy getting keepers right, take Almunia, brilliant one minute, as shown against Barca, a bundle of nerves in another game…eg West Brom. The widely held perception is that this is an area whereby we need to up our game , on the playing and coaching front, again, we shall see.

  4. i always say a keeper is as good as the defence infront of him…Cech has had the privilledge of playing behind the meanest EPL defence in the Millenium.DeGea is the only exception to this cos he played behind a terrible ManU Defence and was by far their best player this season,i have not seenn Cech left exposed since i have been watching Chelsea play,But who i have seen exposed several times,timee after time,every game is our Unfortunatee Goal Keepper Szczesny,he was fantastic last season,he is harshly judged this season cos most of the time Koscielny was dropped and he had too playyy behind a makeshift defence,Ospina came into the side when Coquelin arrived and Kosciellny was fit.I would like to see how well Ospina would do playing behind Metesacker and Monreal with Chambers playing as DM with a Bellerin still finding his feet in the team.Szczeny is a fantastic keeper.Our defence just let him exposed a lot while Ospina has seen the kind of cover Szczesny has never seen…off topic..u said during the time Chapman used 9 keepers there were no substitutions then…plz can u help me with the time substitions were introduced to the game…and how many times the offside rule was modified or relaxed like i like to call it so that more goals would be scored.thanx.

  5. I don’t think its as clear cut as saying “Cech isn’t no1 for Chelsea, so he clearly isn’t good enough for Arsenal”

    I think if Cech himself felt his quality had declined, he’d have been happy to sit behind Courtois and live the comfortable life at Chelsea, knowing he’s a hero to their fans. He isn’t happy with that, and is alledgely using his influence at Chelsea to engineer a move to a rival team.

    The question is, is he better than Ospina or Szczesny, and do we really want to lose either one to make room for him?

    It’s a weird transfer. But if it goes ahead its because Wenger thinks he’s better than what we have; and I’m inclined to trust in that.

  6. Cech hasn’t really had much of a challenge at Chel$kie in the last couple seasons…I feel he has lost his drive for the blues hence his search for a real opportunity to show what impact he really has in a line-up!

    Can Arsenal give him that opportunity remains to be seen.

    Personally I am not convinced we need to let go either one of our keepers YET!

  7. Brickfields Gunners, i agree on this, i have a very bad feeling concerning Cech.

    Nicky too, i also don’t want Chel$ cast offs.

    Seems like the majority here(a.t.m anyway) is a big NO to Cech.

    All in all this is just a weird situation, and i hope it does not come off.

  8. Morning All

    I have to be honest and say that I from a Chelsea Supporters perspective I really am in two minds about this

    Petr has been a top keeper for us and without doubt is still at a top level but we now have a young top keeper who will improve and should be around for another ten years.

    I thought it was certain that Cech would move on last year but as we now know he stayed and is now in the last year of his contract and based on our policy, which I think is yours as well, down to his age he would only get a year on year deal from this point on.If we get £10+ million we will be selling for more than we paid for him and based on his age the position he plays the reality is you will be paying top dollar for him
    So what will you be getting?

    Well in the 6 yard box he is certainly up there with the best he will attack the ball in the air, if allowed to get to it,

    He deals with shots from distance very well and his distribution is top draw.

    His major flaw for me is that he stays on his line and unlike say Lloris at Spurs and to a degree Courtois he is used to his back four, or at least the two central defenders, one full back and a holding midfielder, laying deep and not needing to advance to the edge of his box to cover the space

    It seems likely that our goalkeeping coach will follow and whilst that too is a disappointment he near enough exclusively has worked with Cech for over 10 years and during that time or at least until recently Cech has not faced a serious challenger for the number one position
    So in summary I personally think he may well be a step up in terms of what you already have but as you will have seen from the keeper you sold to Swansea it may not just be about ability sometimes it’s about the system the team play
    Finally if the sum being quoted is correct taking all factors such as the players age, length of contract, the position he plays , his non home grown status etc you seem to be paying a huge sum indeed it will be in the all time top 10 fees paid for a keeper and certainly the highest for a keeper over the age of 30 so based on previous articles and subsequent comments here on Untold regarding the transfer fees we are reported to be getting does that now mean that there is now a question over why such a fee will be paid ?

  9. The fact that all Chel$ people want to sell him to Arsenal is suspect too. 🙂

  10. Tim of 7amkickoff recently came up with Cechs’ stats. As I’ve mentioned before I’m not a big fan of stats, but this looks a good comparison with our present and past keeps and I’ve included it for your interest. It suggests that Cech doesn’t have the aerial ability that he once had.

  11. Mike T, you said: “His major flaw for me is that he stays on his line and unlike say Lloris at Spurs and to a degree Courtois he is used to his back four, or at least the two central defenders, one full back and a holding midfielder, laying deep and not needing to advance to the edge of his box to cover the space”

    And that is my big reservation about Cech (and my love for our current goal keepers 😉 ) Or will Wenger change the system and go parking the bus a bit more 😉

    Fact is Chelsea has played a lot the system where taking the lead they just sit back and kill the opposition on the counter. Something Arsenal rarely does over the last years.

    So the question will be if Cech can adopt to such a system and if he is the right man for this. I remember a 3-5 score a few years ago where Arsenal countered Chelsea to pieces and he sure couldn’t stop the Arsenal attackers on that day.

  12. Ospina is a cool calm shot stopping keeper effective on 1 on 1’s but too short to deal with shall we say Drogba / Benteke / Gomis type forwards and suspect to long shots dipping under the bar. Szczesny is a good keeper that has concentration lapses , he can sort out the big boys and again stops shots from distance and spreads well when he has to. If only he didn’t go walkabout he would be the perfect answer. Cech is tall ,good in the air, spreads well and can stop long shots and tends to hold the ball. At the moment he is the best of the three and if Szcz can be persuaded to keep learning under him , we will have the best of both worlds because age is on his side and he will be the heir apparent for two to three years time.

  13. Goalkeeper is the most important position on the pitch. He’s the only player on defense who sees everything in front of him at all times.
    The best ones use this fact to their advantage and they direct their defenders accordingly during games. Something I haven’t seen much from Ospina( maybe because of the language barrier), and not enough of from Szczesny either.

    Cech would be a major improvement on both of our keepers due to his vast knowledge, talent, atchievments and especially his proffesionalizm.

    People who say Szczesny just needs time to mature and at 25 years old can be excused for his indiscretions, might be interested to know that Cech’s scouting report when he was still at Sparta ,said “he’s nineteen going on thirty”.

    He’s stats are there for all to see so no point going over them again.
    Here’s what you won’t see I while looking at statistics.

    You won’t see a Southampton like performance we got from Szczesny , and you won’t see him making three mistakes on one play like Ospina did against Swansea at home.

    I watch all Chelsea games like I do with all PL top teams, and I don’t remember a single game where Cech cost them points while I remember planty of games where he was their player of the game and saved them points. Hardly scientific, I know but how often have we been able to say that about our keepers?

    Cech also gives us the X – factor ( assuming the transfer goes through).
    Coming over from our fierces rivals and the title favorites, he would be center stage of any film session before the two Chelsea games next season, giving our players and coaches first hand analyses of Mourinho’s set ups , directives and instructions ( something Mourinho is well aware of and probably hates more than anything else).

    As for his transfer fee being too high at £10M .
    Cech is only 33, a year younger then Van Der Sar was when Man U paid £4M for him to Fulham and that was considered a bargain by SAF in 2005.
    Factor in the TV rights money then and now ,and £10M for Cech is a better deal than £4M fee for the Dutch keeper was.

  14. I don’t believe we need Cech I’m more than happy with the keepers we have but Arsene does know best.

    Until signings are announced on the official Arsenal website it’s just too easy to put this down as just more media male cow excrement.

  15. Para
    “The fact that all Chel$ people want to sell him to Arsenal is suspect too. :)”

    The Chelsea people don’t want to sell him to Arsenal.
    Mourinho is adamant about that.

    Apparently Abramovich and Cech have a special relationship. Cech is one of a handful of Chelsea players privileged enough to spend time vacationing with his family on Abramovich’s yacht.

    Cech wants to leave for first team action , much like Rosicky wanted to leave Arsenal due to next year’s Euros.
    For his exemplary services he was granted ( apparently) a choice of club and for multiple reasons he chose Arsenal.

    Still, if the deal goes through , he should be immediately quarantined and checked for any number of contagious diseases Mourinho might’ve infected him while he was shaking his hand goodbye.

  16. “What do we really know about Chech?”
    He comes from a place that makes really good lager…..Pilsen. And you have to say that Czech lager is the best in the world.

  17. The economics of this transfer don’t look right to me. We should not be paying top dollar for a player who isn’t playing (starting) for his current team and wants to come here. Nor should we be paying (offering) top wages (to start with). But, this transfer still isn’t at Arsenal,com, and hence I continue to hope it is something else.

  18. I am broadly in favour of the Cech signing. He is a world class keeper currently unable to hold a place down because of an even better younger keeper. He is without doubt better than our current first and second choice keepers and so will increase stability for a defence which is still not totally the finished article.

    He also appears to be very professional and may well be a better influence in the dressing room and on the field than our aberrant PiG or Ospina who had virtually no english language at least at the start of last year.

    Finally I am hopeful that he and the goalkeeping coach said to be coming with him will help our PiG to step up to the next level and eliminate the flaws which persist in his game at present. In the same context they could be even more important in the development of Martinez who is our youngest keeper and of whom I have heard others say that he has the ability to become an outstanding world class keeper.

    So all in all what’s not to like?

  19. @Tom
    June 23, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    After reading your post; you don’t half sound convincing, and whilst I admit once again my skepticism of this (alleged) transfer; your post makes good sense to me.

  20. Yes Vintage Gooner; this idea that Cechs’ coach is part and parcel of this ‘transfer’ is even more ‘palatable’ given what they will bring with them as a package to our Goalkeeping set-up!

  21. I’m not sure at all about Cech – especially if it means letting Ospina go. Based on statistics, Ospina is a fabulous keeper – not as good as Neuer, but certainly on par with Cech.

    Goals conceded per game is a good indicator, where Cech shines, but it reflects on the overall quality of defense – not purely the goalkeeper. Saves per goal conceded, however, is an indication of the quality of the goalkeeper alone.

    Cech 2013/14 2.26 saves per goal
    Cech 2014/15 7 saves per goal (7 games)
    Ospina 2013/14 (Nice) 3.39
    Ospina 2014/15 3.18 (18 games)
    Szczesny 2013/2014 1.95
    Szczesny 2013/2014 1.4 (17 games)
    Hart 2013/14 1.59
    Hart 2014/15 2.38
    Neuer 2013/14 3.13
    Neuer 2014/15 2.67
    Lloris 2013/14 1.81
    Lloris 2014/15 1.98
    De Gea 2013/14 1.98
    De Gea 2014/15 2.17
    Courtois 2013/14 2.73
    Courtois 2014/15 2.1

    So – all in all, the conclusions are:
    Neuer is the best bar none. Courtois is fabulous. De Gea is very good. Hart had a very good season.

    But Cech is probably better than Szczesny (though he is much less tested than Szczesny due to the parked bus), but Ospiiiiiiiiinaaaaaa is better than both. The only way this purchase adds up is if the goalkeeping coach is very good and can help Szczesny improve. Otherwise, it doesnt seem to add up…

  22. In surfing the news, I ran across an article which might be of interest to people. But, is this something Arsenal is supporting, or is some group just renting Wenger Stadium to promote a new magazine? If I stick 2 URLs in here, maybe moderation will have an answer?

    July 2



    Radio Prague has an article on the Cech transfer. Which supports some points Tom brought up.


    Next Chile Copa America game is tomorrow (8:30pm local time, which will be really early Thursday for UK). Against Uruguay.

  23. Apo Armani

    This one falls under believe it when I see it category , mainly because of Mourinho being” involved “.

    If it does happen, curiously , it might mean that a word given to a player by a Russian oligarch means more than one given by a Northern Irishman or a billionaire owner from Boston Massachusetts.

    Or maybe the difference being that Cech hasn’t bitten anyone and almost lost his life by a knee of a thuggish overzealous player to his skull, while Suarez was a constant PR nightmare.

    Interestingly enough, the game Cech was injured so badly in, was refereed by none other than our best friend – Riley, who didn’t think it was even a foul. So you see, it was meant to be 🙂

  24. @Walter
    I too remember that game but to be fair it wasn’t just Cech that couldn’t deal with the high line defence . I really can’t recall him ever sweeping nor come to that advancing to create an out ball for the two central defenders if they become pressured. It’s not the way he plays or indeed has been coached
    Several of Chelsea’s players are quite close to RA. Whilst I have no doubt that Cech is held in high regard I very much think that the whole PR issue has been planned by Chelsea

    I don’t doubt that Cech was told 12 months ago stay another year and as reward choose where you go .The key points to me are that in less than 12 months time Cech would be a free agent or based on club policy only be offered a 12 month deal which probably e on reduced terms . Next his ultimate replacement is in place and now has a years experience and on a new long term contractand key here is that he is reported to be paid less than Cech

    Also factor in that Cech is not a home grown player and I would suspect that with the imminent changes to the whole homegrown status thing we will be looking to bring in HG keepers as numbers 2&3 but irrespective Cech will not be first choice save an injury and both in wage cost terms and the reported transfer fee it seems to me that everyone on the face of it is seemingly going to get a deal that suits.

    Of course JM is saying that he would prefer to keep Cech just like he would have wanted to keep Lampard .

    What I am not so sure about is how the transfer impacts Arsenal in that a 33 year old is going to be , if he does indeed sign, on a multi year contract which seemingly goes against your club policy and the player comes with no resale value and something which I doubt has happened too often you would be signing a player who is a little past his best and will not improve.

  25. Cech to Arsenal seems a strange one to me and while I normally don’t pay much attention to rumors or agent inspired media hype I would be keen to know what is going on behind the scene.

    The media is really hyping this one up – strange that they would do so when their darling – the “Toxic Odious One” is supposedly against the transfer?

    I suspect the usual double talk all round from the Chelski mouth pieces – and I would like to eventually know the truth!!

  26. I notice the media are displaying their anti Arsenal credentials again by congratulating Chelsea on their generous and magnanimous gesture of allowing Cech to come to a rival as opposed to Wenger/Arsenal being idiots when RVP was allowed to go to Man U.

  27. Tom, thanks, and yea he needs to be checked out good. 🙂
    And as you say in your previous post, he knows Chel$ and Mourihno tactics inside out too. 🙂 so that may be a help,(not that we really need to know them at all 🙂 ) as we are going to battle Chel$ next season and reclaim our crown the PL trophy.

  28. I was looking at the Squawka stats for keepers…clean sheets,goals conceded, saves, saves per goal, distribution, distribution length, punches, catches.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that these statistics are useless but they are far from being useful. If the team in front of the keeper is allowing great opportunities, the keeper will watch shots go by him. If the gaffer tells him to distribute the ball a certain way within a certain amount of time, this may affect his distribution statistics. It doesn’t show how comfortable the back four make the keeper feel nor how comfortable he makes the back four feel, either. Communication amongst defenders is crucial…how would one evaluate that? Meh

  29. IMO, Keeper is a position that you really have to watch live to get a feel for (and I cannot for geographical reasons do this). A keeper’s positioning, communication with the back four and his command of the box are not seen when watching on the telly ergo I am ambivalent about this mooted transfer of Petr Cech because I feel I can’t judge adequately. Both Ospina and Szczesny bring positive things to the table and I like their attitudes.

  30. Have to disagree with franck’s comment of this morning, ‘ a goalkeeper is only as good as the defence in front of him’.
    Truth is that a defence can only be as good as the goalkeeper who organises and commands it.
    Show me a team in the modern era who were successful over any period of time without a top class goalkeeper.
    Petr Cech is definitely that. The thing is do we need him?
    From the outside our two current keepers are excellent and either would be first choice in most teams. But we’re not most teams, we are the Arsenal, and require the extra mile. Only Le Boss knows the full picture and can make the call. He’s responsible for Szczesny being as good as he is and also for Oooooooospina coming to Arsenal. So despite what some may think, he must know something about goalkeepers.
    I say wait and see and whatever he decides will probably be the right choice.

  31. I actually hope this deal does not happen because even though Cech has a great world class resume, is he much better than the options we have for the present and future times?

    I also find it odd that articles linking Lloris (age 28) to United say he has a good 5-6 years left for a top top European club, also state that Cech (age 33) has a good 5-6 years left for a top, top European club. Think this is just another made up media story, that if you say it enough times, you believe it is true. Then like the expected media transfers of past years (Higuan, Benzeme, Suarez, Martinez), Cech goes some where else, and Arsenal actually signs their real world class targets (Ozil, Sanchez, etc…). We’ve signed very good (if not world class players) from Spanish La Liga and French Ligue 1 the last few years. I’m expecting a surprise signing from Italy or the German league this year.

  32. Cech is flattered by the fact that he had 2 additional keepers in front of him as has his replacement Courtois. Cahill & JT have saved several goals using their hands but according to the PGMO laws are not foul nor handball. So stats fail in this aspect – that’s why I prefer to comment on what I see rather than what some statistician deems relevant.

    If Ospina is replaced (i hope not) I will make sure to chant Oooospinaaa every time our keeper has to take a free kick.

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