What to do With Arsenal’s Goalkeepers

Arsenal's goalkeepers
ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 25: (L-R) David Ospina, Emiliano Martinez and Petr Cech of Arsenal during a training session at London Colney on December 25, 2016 in St Albans, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The Gunners have depth between the sticks but haven’t gotten many top-class performances from the position this season. Arsenal’s goalkeepers, while not the worst part of this team, have not done much to help the cause this campaign.

In the ranks of Arsenal’s goalkeepers are Emiliano Martinez, enduring a tough loan spell at Getafe, and Matt Macey, who is a bit of an unknown quantity. Neither are ready to become the next number one.

Meanwhile, with both first-choice Petr Cech and number two David Ospina entering the final year of their contracts, ‘keeper is one place where Arsenal must improve next season.

Arsenal’s Goalkeepers: Who Should Stay and Who Should Go?

Petr Cech

The Czech shot-stopper came to Arsenal from Chelsea after the emergence of Thibaut Courtois. Cech transferred to make sure he got plenty of first-team minutes, as he wasn’t yet ready to retire or move to a ‘lesser’ division.

However, he may be in the same situation now as he was with the Blues after a statistically terrible season. While there is no up and coming goalie coming through the ranks to usurp Petr Cech, his own frailties may soon relegate him to a lesser part.

Not only is he getting on in years, turning 36 on 20 May, his abilities are waning.

Errors Leading to Goals

The Premier League tracks when players make errors leading directly to goals. Here is how Petr Cech compares to the ‘keepers at the other big six clubs:

Petr Cech – 6

Hugo Lloris – 5

Simon Mignolet – 2

Ederson – 2

Thibaut Courtois – 0

David De Gea – 0

Passing

Cech’s poor passing also makes for grim reading. Here is how the Arsenal man’s passing success percentage compares to the other big-six ‘keepers (courtesy of Whoscored).

Ederson – 85.3%

Hugo Lloris – 75.4%

Thibault Courtois – 70.1%

Simon Mignolet – 69.5%

Petr Cech – 65.4%

David De Gea – 57.5%

Note that while Cech’s passing percentage is slightly higher than that of De Gea, the Manchester United man has completed more total passes (918 to 811), averages more passes per match (25.5 to 23.85) and has made more accurate long balls (254 to 184) than the Arsenal man.

Verdict

This past season, Per Mertesacker was largely tasked with playing mentor to the younger contingent of the Arsenal dressing room. While Petr Cech may no longer be a top player, like the German during this campaign, Arsenal’s goalkeepers could still learn a lot from him.

He is also still a cut above many other ‘keepers in the Premiership, so would likely not accept a move to a smaller team.

Plus, the Arsenal number one is paid, well, like an Arsenal number one. Few if any clubs could afford his salary as well as his various hiccups. So, while it may be possible, it is unlikely to see Cech swapping clubs this summer.

Instead, allowing the Czech to play second fiddle to another ‘keeper while playing in the Europa League and Cup competitions makes seans. Meanwhile, he could still mentor the younger players.

David Ospina

The Colombian nearly moved away from the club last summer. Ospina had offers from Turkey as well as France to play, presumably, as a first-choice ‘keeper. All credit to the Arsenal man, as he stayed in north London in order to fight for his place.

However, his role at the club has not changed since the summer. He is still the undisputed second-choice goalie behind Petr Cech, even after the number one turned in poor performance after poor performance.

Ospina is also getting on in years. While 30 is certainly not old for a man between the sticks, it is the time in a player’s career in which they must play. After all, not much improvement is made after age 30, which Ospina will reach in August 2018.

Pertinent Statistics

David Ospina joined Arsenal on a free transfer in 2014, making 2017-2018 his fourth in north London. In those four years, the Colombian has made just 28 league appearances. For comparison, Petr Cech has 34 appearances thus far this season.

Of all Arsenal’s goalkeepers, Ospina may feel the most betrayed. For example, of his four starts this season, the Colombian has given up just three goals. Cech, on the other hand, has shipped 48 in 34 games. That’s a small sample size, but Ospina may look at it as proof of his abilities.

On top of all that, his contract is set to expire in the summer of 2019, along with that of Petr Cech.

Verdict

Ospina deserves to play. His performances for Arsenal merit that, but his current role at the club does not reflect his contributions when he does play.

Add to that the fact he is nearing 30 and is on a short contract, and it seems fairly unlikely that Ospina will continue at the Emirates. While he is still a capable number two, he will wish to move on to play as a number one.

Emiliano Martinez

The Argentine turns 26 in September 2018, so can no longer consider himself a youngster. Martinez is spending the entire season on loan at La Liga outfit Getafe.

However, despite the hope for playtime, Martinez has found himself stuck on the bench for a majority of the season. He has made just six appearances in Spain in the 2017-2018 season.

The first two came in the Copa del Rey against Alavés, when Martinez shipped four goals over the two legs. He then had to wait all the way until January to get a taste of league action.

Since his La Liga debut at home to Málaga, a 1-0 win, Emiliano Martinez has given up five goals in three other appearances. Getafe have won once, drawn once and lost twice with the Argentine between the sticks.

With his parent club, Martinez has just six league appearances in the league despite joining the club in 2012.

Verdict

Emiliano Martinez may turn out to be a solid ‘keeper. However, despite being involved with the club for six years now, he just isn’t Arsenal quality.

While goalies do mature a bit more slowly than outfield players, 25 going on 26 is too old to still be considered a prospect. The player’s performances while on loan are also very underwhelming.

With two ‘keepers of greater quality already ahead of him in the pecking order, plus a younger contender rising with the reserves, don’t expect to see much more of Emiliano Martinez at the Emirates. Even if and when Ospina leaves.

Matt Macey

The youngest of Arsenal’s goalkeepers, at least amongst those with a first-team appearance. Matt Macey is 23 years old, turning 24 in September 2018.

Given his inexperience, there aren’t many displays that we can look to in order to judge the young man. He did get two games for the first team this season – one in the Carabao Cup and one in the Europa League – but, that is just too small of a sample size to properly assess the player.

Macey does have two loan spells to speak of, however. The first with Accrington Stanley in 2014-2015 and the next in 2016-2017 with Luton Town. Between those two loans, he made 19 starts in all competitions.

Verdict

Matt Macey needs more time before deciding on his future. With just two senior appearances for the ‘keeper, no one can say with absolute certainty whether or not he is Arsenal quality.

Therefore, it would be foolish to cut ties with him already. Macey should be allowed another few years to develop, as Emiliano Martinez has had, before deciding on his future.

Expect to see Macey continue his duties as third-choice next season, or get sent out on loan.

Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images

LEAVE A REPLY