David Ospina is not good enough for Arsenal and should be replaced

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David Ospina cannot be held directly accountable for Arsenal's north London derby defeat against Tottenham Hotspur, but Saturday's match at White Hart Lane proved that the Colombian goalkeeper is some way short of the required quality needed for any team that has aspirations of winning the Premier League title.

The 26-year-old's poor distribution is just one of a number of notable weaknesses in his makeup, with the puzzling preference to punch or push the ball away rather than keeping hold of possession another equally worrying trait.

That tendency was on show numerous times against Spurs at the weekend, and more alarmingly for Gunners supporters is the fact that the current custodian appears to have even less command of his box than former number one Wojciech Szczesny.

Ospina seems to lack the confidence to come and claim crosses from both set-pieces and open play, and that often leaves Arsene Wenger's back four looking nervously over their shoulders.

The £3.2 million signing from Nice has performed okay since replacing the Poland international at the start of 2015, keeping four consecutive clean sheets against Hull City, Stoke City, Manchester City and Aston Villa.

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However, that impressive record falsely flatters the stand-in stopper, whose succession of stingy shutouts in the league and FA Cup is largely thanks to improved defensive performances and the recent rise of Francis Coquelin in defensive midfield, rather than his presence between the sticks.

Ospina has rarely been tested prior to Saturday, and when the Arsenal midfield was finally overrun by the tireless Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb the Gunners goalkeeper failed to convince when presented with a stronger threat from opposition in the last third of the pitch.

He was fortunate to go in at the interval with his clean sheet still intact after Spurs failed to capitalise on a couple of perilous parries, that are fast becoming a trademark of the South American.

In the second half that caught up with him.

Harry Kane reacted quickest to Ospina's feeble block following a flick-on from a Christian Eriksen corner to slam home from close range and bring the game level. Later, his match-winning header was converted superbly following a pinpoint Bentaleb cross that left the keeper with no chance.

Despite the lack of liability for that decisive goal Ospina's reputation as an elite-level goalkeeper is dwindling. His recent comments about wanting to emulate the likes of David De Gea, Hugo Lloris and Joe Hart are laughable - he is some way off the standard set by those stars.

"There are some very good goalkeepers in the Premier League," he was quoted saying by the Daily Star last week. "There's De Gea, Hugo Lloris, Hart - they're great keepers who've proved their worth over the course of many seasons and are continuing to do so now.

"At Arsenal we have very good goalkeepers in the shape of Wojciech Szczesny and Emiliano Martinez. The Premier League has always had top-quality goalkeepers."

Thibaut Courtois and Petr Cech are the only other world-class custodians worth mentioning in the Premier League at the moment, capable of delivering a consistent level of performance that's a good enough foundation for a successful domestic title challenge to be built.

Ospina is obviously not going to criticise his fellow team-mates at the Emirates Stadium, but the fact he specifically mentioned them as "very good goalkeepers" tells you everything you need to know about the gulf between the options available to Wenger and the aforementioned stars at Manchester United, Tottenham, Manchester City and Chelsea.

The writing was on the wall for Ospina from the moment he made his debut in the surprise 2-1 defeat against Southampton in the Capital One Cup in September. On that night his kicking was atrocious and he was also far too easily beaten by Nathaniel Clyne's long-range strike which turned out to be the winning goal that sent Arsenal crashing out of the competition at the third round stage.

Wenger intimated before the Tottenham game that he is yet to be fully convinced by Ospina after suggesting that the former Ligue 1 star should not yet be considered Arsenal's permanent first-choice stopper, even though he's played every game - apart from Brighton & Hove Albion - since Szczesny's calamitous New Year's Day display at St Mary's.

"David Ospina has had some time to settle because he was injured when he arrived here," the French tactician was quoted saying by the London Evening Standard. "During that time we could see his dedication, his focus and his quality.

"He's in a fight with Wojciech Szczesny to start at the moment. Wojciech is the No.1 but David has played recently. Can he retain the shirt in the coming games? We'll decide that.

"I don't forget Emiliano Martinez either, who I rate highly. We have three top goalkeepers and the fight for who starts is going on."

Wenger's failure to acknowledge that none of his current options are up to the necessary standard continues to play havoc with Arsenal's title prospects moving forward.

He needs to return to the transfer market this summer to find a solution to such a glaringly obvious problem, or else Gunners fans must accept they'll never sustain a serious challenge for Premier League supremacy again.

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David Ospina
Premier League

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