Archive November 2018

Arsenal’s number one? Comparing Cech & Leno

Bernd Leno joined the Arsenal from Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen back in July and given the sizeable transfer fee paid in order to acquire his services you’d have been forgiven for assuming he’d have been installed as the number one with the veteran Petr Cech being limited to providing cover and featuring in the cup competitions.

And so, eyebrows were raised when Petr Cech began the season in between the posts with the 26 year old German warming the bench.  Given his poor performances last season the general feeling was that Cech was long past his best and no longer agile enough to play at the top end of the world’s most competitive league.

Having watched the pre season tour closely during the summer the improved conditioning of certain individuals, Cech being amongst them was visibly noticeable.  The new training regime has clearly been of great benefit and Cech’s improved form and agility are a testament to that.

On the 2nd October, during the home win versus Watford, Cech injured his hamstring taking a goal kick and was forced off, subsequently opening the door for the German to stake his claim as the number one.  Despite Cech’s return to fitness Leno has held down his place having turned in some impressive performances during the past few weeks.  However, I think it’s safe to say he had a mixed evening versus Liverpool on Saturday, pulling off a couple of wonderful saves in between a couple of uncharacteristic errors.

From watching the pair, it’s clear both have very different skill sets and once again Unai Emery has an extremely difficult decision to make over who will be his number one going forward.  In terms of their overall quality as goalkeepers, in my view there’s not a great deal in it, both having shown they can earn the team points and so it comes down to the manager’s preference and who he feels better compliments our desired style of play.

Leno is far more polished with the ball at his feet, his distribution is better than that of some central defenders, he takes up a braver starting position and is  happy to play as a ‘sweeper keeper’ when necessary – you could say he’s your typical modern day goalkeeper.  Stylistically, the German is very similar to Alisson of Liverpool and Ederson of Manchester City – Leno is a far more economical alternative considering the aforementioned two cost their respective clubs a total of £92m between them.

Petr Cech on the other hand is a lot more dominant in aerial situations, has a greater presence in the penalty area and is certainly more vocal in terms of organising his defence. The 36 year old is a more orthodox Goalkeeper, the traditional kind that we older folk can relate to.  Perhaps it’s time we acknowledge that Petr Cech could be one of the last of his kind and that going forward, Goalkeepers will also be judged on their ability to play football rather than just their ability to keep the ball out of the net.

Unai Emery and Arsenal find themselves in the fortunate position of having two top quality goalkeepers to select from, both with different strengths, weaknesses and characteristics.  Is one clearly better than the other? Not for me, they’re both stoppers of the highest quality and it’s a great problem for any manager to have.  Having made it through to the League Cup quarter finals, set to qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League and the FA Cup third round to come in January there will be plenty of games for both to feature their fair share.

Seeing as I can’t decide, here at @chronicles_afc we want to know who YOUR preferred goalkeeper is of the two. Tweet us or comment your thoughts below.  The best answers will feature on next weeks podcast!

 

Episode 33: Resilience

Join host Harry Symeou, Mike Stavrou and Chris Davison on this weeks Chronicles of a Gooner Podcast. The guys look back at the weekend’s draw versus Liverpool.

Also available on iTunes, Tune In, PodBean, Acast and FNX.

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Arsenal’s decision to pull the plug on Ramsey deal ‘isn’t personal’

Aaron Ramsey signed for Arsenal back in 2008 for a fee believed to be in the region of £5m.  Despite interest from Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson the Welshman opted to join the North London club and has been quoted as saying “I just felt a bit more wanted by Arsenal and the boss” since.

Arsene Wenger and the club had arranged for the 17 year old to be flown out to Switzerland for a meeting during Euro 2008 and at that point the youngsters mind was made up.  Fast forward two years and this promising young midfield player faced his most difficult challenge to date.  During a game up at Stoke City he suffered a horrific leg break courtesy of Ryan Shawcross’ x-rated challenge and having shown great promise many felt the physical and psychological scars would be difficult to recover from and prevent him reaching his full potential if he was to return to fitness.

To his credit, Aaron showed great mental strength and incredible determination to get himself fit again and has since scored two FA Cup final winners, helped his un-fancied National team to a European Championship Semi Final and established himself as a regular in the Arsenal side.  Taking all of that into consideration you do wonder why Arsenal Football Club would have allowed such a valuable asset to run down his contract, at 27 years old the midfielder has yet to reach his peak and resolving his future a year or so ago would have at best protected his value in the transfer market.

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The Gunners stand to lose him for free this summer and it has since emerged an offer that had been made to the player was later withdrawn suggesting that the Club were willing to accept his demands at some stage and have since had a dramatic change of heart.

Unai Emery was highly complementary of the player during the summer months and despite all the drama behind the scenes has continued to praise his attitude, reiterating the fact he remains a part of his immediate plans.

A great deal has changed at Arsenal in the recent months, there’s a new manager for the first time in 22 years, Ivan Gazidis’ has left for pastures new, Raul Sanllehi is the Head of Football, Vinai Venkatesham is now a Managing Director and Arsenal’s recruitment approach is now driven by the recommendations of Sven Mislintat. Aaron Ramsey has been a victim of these changes, collateral damage left in the wake of an excitingrevolution taking place.

Given the self-sustaining model under which Arsenal operate, the club will continue to think twice before offering its stars long-term bumper contracts.  In today’s market Aaron Ramsey is certainly worth a fair few quid but would you make such heavy investment if it were to restrict you in the transfer market going forward?

The club have placed their faith in Unai Emery to restore their Champions League status, with the financial reward being so substantial achieving that goal means everything.  Despite the recent good run of form the manager will know full well he needs further recruits to build a side capable of achieving his target position and sustaining it.  If presenting Aaron Ramsey with such a lucrative deal will restrict Sanllehi’s ability to acquire those targets identified by Mislintat and the manager it would be viewed as counter-productive.

Is Aaron Ramsey irreplaceable?  You’d have to assume the manager and the key decision makers don’t believe that to be the case and therefore this is a decision taken with the clubs future dealings in mind. Perhaps the impressive performances produced by Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira so far this season had an influence on the decision to withdraw the offer – I guess we’ll never really know.

However what I will say is this, it isn’t personal, the decision won’t have been taken lightly, it’s as much football based as it is financial and providing Arsenal invest smartly in the coming transfer windows I feel it is one that will be vindicated.

Let us know your thoughts, Tweet me at @chronicles_afc