Arsenal have signed a new goalkeeper. I don’t know if you’d noticed. The Times celebrated this by giving us last season’s stats for the new chap and the two current custodians of the onion bag. Here they are:
If reaching conclusions based on a single season of evidence when players were at different clubs is your thing, then you’ll be delighted to see that Cech is a hell of a lot better than the other two, and thus a vast improvement. To be fair, stats or not, he is definitely better.
The stats suggest that Szczesny is really not all that good. Some Arsenal fans think he is very good, but even those people tend to steer clear of saying he’s better than Cech. They believe – or hope – that Chezzer will learn from the master and become the world class keeper his raw talent suggests he should.
Well I am here to tell you that Szczesny won’t become world class. Being truly world class takes either an utterly outrageous talent – George Best, say, or Johan Cruyff, players so good they could smoke and drink to their heart’s (dis)content and still leave everyone else trailing – or a lot of talent and the capacity and focus for utterly single-minded determination. Szczesny is talented, but he’s no maverick genius like Best or Cruyff. And unfortunately he does not have the mental side either, and at his age he’s not going to learn it. He can of course be a much better keeper than he’s been so far, but he’ll never be as good as Cech (or Seaman or Schmeichel, to name the three best keepers of the last 20 years to play in England). Whether Szczesny is a better keeper than Ospina is another matter. They both have their faults, but at least Ospina is less likely to get ash on you as you come out of the shower.
The Times also note that Cech holds the Premier League record for clean sheets in a season, with 24, and is seven behind David James in total clean sheets in the PL. It doesn’t say how many unclean sheets David James had. Probably more than Cech.