Arsenal were far from their best as they hosted Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon and they only managed to come away with a point, but if it wasn’t for Petr Cech they may have lost the game.
Cech had to make a number of saves in the first half to keep the scores level. The former Chelsea man has endured a poor start to the season (before yesterday at least) and his main competition in David Ospina has been playing well. Ospina most recently impressed on Wednesday night against Ludogorets in the Champions League, after this performance, many fans suggested that Ospina deserved to now start ahead of Cech in the Premier League.
But Cech responded very well on Saturday, making three crucial saves, including a double save where it appeared that Middlesbrough would surely take the lead. Arsenal signed Cech from Chelsea when of course Jose Mourinho was in charge, some of the fans are now sarcastically thanking Mourinho for Cech, although it is clear that Jose did not support the decision to allow Cech to join Arsenal.
One area Cech has struggled with this season is his distribution and on Saturday this was much improved. He boasted a pass success rate of 79% and made 19 successful passes, including 4 long balls during the game.
Here’s how the fans reacted to Cech’s performance vs. Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon.
Cech is having an absolute blinder ?
— Copa90 (@Copa90) October 22, 2016
Thank you Jose Mourinho for Petr Cech.
— Danny Welbeck (@WelBeast) October 22, 2016
Cech kept us in it yesterday
— Matt (@MattyEatwell95) October 23, 2016
Good job Petr Cech. ?? pic.twitter.com/BZI5yvupGk
— HARSH (@ArsenalPoper) October 23, 2016
Fair Play to Cech, quality performance yesterday but he needs to be more consistent.
— Arsenal (@ffarsenalfc) October 23, 2016
Cech needed a performance like this to ensure he stayed ahead of Ospina in the pecking order. The Colombian will have been pushing him after another world class performance in the Champions League. Couple that with Cech’s questionable start to the season and there were rightly question marks over who should be Arsenal’s number 1 goalkeeper. Now it is up to Cech to consistently deliver those kind of performances and retain his spot.
Aged 34, many have questioned whether Cech is on the decline and how long he can last at the very top. Sometimes this season he has refused to dive when the ball was perhaps within reach – this is just one sign of an older goalkeeper. Saturday’s performance will have given him renewed confidence though, and a decision on his long term future should only be taken at the end of the season or after a long run of bad performances.