Goalkeeper changes are imminent in North London, with reports suggesting Wojciech Szczesny is closing in on a move to Roma- but is it the right call?
Arsenal’s purchase of Petr Cech from Premier League rivals Chelsea set a lot of things in motion. For starters, the Gunners had finally added a top-name between the sticks for the first-time since Jens Lehmann’s days in North London.
Perhaps more importantly though is what it means for outgoing business, as one of David Ospina or Wojciech Szczesny will be leaving the club this summer. Initially it was thought Ospina would make way, moving to Fenerbahce, but now Szczesny is heavily-linked with a move to Roma.
Whilst the links are unsurprising, the manner of the situation has raised some eyebrows. Since Cech’s arrival, Szczesny was considered to be the number two- whilst Ospina was seemingly out of the equation. Those assumptions seemed to be correct with the aforementioned Fenerbahce links- but suddenly, the situation has changed.
Szczesny, a home-grown player at Arsenal, went on the pre-season tour to Singapore and was expected to feature in the Emirates Cup this weekend. Obviously, that’s now under scrutiny- but the question here is, have Arsenal made the right call?
It’s worth beginning with the fact that Szczesny is 25, whilst Ospina is slightly older at 26, but Szczesny has more Premier League experience. Despite a disappointing campaign for him last term in the league, the prior season he shared the Golden Glove with a certain Petr Cech.
Szczesny also knows the club better, having joined in 2009- making his Premier League debut in December 2010 and retaining the first-team jersey ever since. That’s five years Arsenal have stuck by him- is the sudden change harsh? Or has he had his chance?
Comparing the two players last season is quite simple enough, with Ospina having made one more Premier League appearance than the Pole. He kept eight clean sheets, conceded just 11 goals and made 35 saves altogether, all of which were superior to Szczesny’s efforts.
In fact, that’s better than Szczesny has done in the past three seasons. Whilst in 2013/14 and 2012/13 Szczesny made more appearances, had Ospina equalled the number of Premier League games it’s likely the Colombian still would have bettered his counter-part.
The most damning stat for Szczesny is that in his last three seasons, he’s statistically conceded a goal for every two saves he makes- not the sort of commanding presence you want from a top-four goalkeeper.
Looking at the stats then, there is no evidence that Szczesny should remain at Arsenal ahead of Ospina, although to be fair to Arsenal’s long-serving stopper it is worth pointing out the defence he played behind in the two seasons prior to Ospina’s arrival was far weaker.
Still, he didn’t perform ahead of a talented defence last season and there’s every suggestion he wouldn’t be capable of doing better in the next campaign. Roma beckons- and it’s going to be difficult for any Arsenal fan to argue that it isn’t the right move.
Just expect an imminent statement from Szczesny’s father in the press slamming Arsenal’s treatment of his son. After all, it’s a trend Szczesny senior has stuck to ferociously.