Here’s something about our goalkeeping situation written by ‘wonker’.
In the build-up to the derby defeat by Spurs, Arsene Wenger stated that Wojciech Szczesny is still our No.1 goalkeeper. Szczesny has made over 170 appearances for the club, so you can understand why Wenger is still pledging his support for the Pole.
Yet, at the same time, he has made over 170 appearances and has he convinced that he can be consistently relied upon to help us achieve long-term and sustained success?
He’s not started in the Premier League since the 2-0 defeat at Southampton on New Year’s Day. After that game, he was fined having been caught smoking.
Summer signing David Ospina has taken over from Szczesny and is in possession of the jersey. He kept clean sheets in his first four games of 2015 – against Hull in the FA Cup, and then Stoke, Man City and Aston Villa in the league. Although, given Villa’s recent goalscoring problems, we could probably have stuck Gunnersaurus in goal for that game.
Ospina had brought a calming presence which was occasionally, maybe more often than that, lacking with Szczesny between the posts. The question is whether the Colombian is the long-term solution?
His first real test came against Spurs and, to me, there seemed to be positives and causes for concern from his performance in the 2-1 defeat.
In the first half, what I thought Ospina did very well at was pushing the ball away from danger when he was making saves. He tipped a Harry Kane shot around the post and batted away Ryan Mason’s effort for a corner.He also pushed Danny Rose’s low shot away from the six-yard box.
But in the second half, especially as Spurs started to increase the tempo and the pressure, he seemed a little less assured.
He certainly wasn’t the only one culpable for Spurs’ equaliser. In some respects, he did well to react quickly to get a hand on the flicked header from the corner. Yet, at the same time, should it have been a stronger hand to push the ball over or further away from goal, rather than helping it on to the back post for Kane to score?
There were then a couple of other moments in the second half when he saved from Mousa Dembele and Nabil Bentaleb, but only succeeded in keeping the ball alive through his saves. Fortunately, the offside flag went up on both occasions, and to be fair to Ospina, he did show superb reflexes to stop one of the opportunities on the follow-up.
Our defence also seemed all over the place at times. Again, that’s not entirely Ospina’s fault, but you want your keeper to be organising your defenders, so they’re not scrambling all over the place.
Ospina has spoken of how he wants to emulate the likes of David de Gea, Hugo Lloris and Joe Hart in the Premier League. De Gea, in particular, has kept Manchester United in the hunt for Champions League qualification this season with a string of world-class performances and probably why they’re heading the football betting market without Chelsea and Man City.
That’s what we need in goal as well. Time could show that Ospina can be that man and he certainly deserves a chance to prove it for the rest of the season.
When the pressure’s put on our defence, like it was against Spurs, he needs to stand firm.
Feel free to comment with your thoughts below. Who do you see as our No1 for the foreseeable future? Let me know. I’ll be back with more tomorrow. Until then, and as always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.
Follow me on Twitter @JamesRaulStokes.