And so it has finally happened. After years of trials and tribulations with goalkeepers, Arsene Wenger has gone out and bought a man who will provide much needed security between the posts.
The signing of Petr Cech, who joined Arsenal on Monday for a fee of around £10million, represents yet another statement of intent from Wenger and the club. A statement that is driving them towards becoming the champions of England for the first time in over a decade.
If last season's purchases of Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck were somewhat luxury buys to an already formidable looking attack, the addition of Cech is a much more required one. Wenger received heavy criticism last summer for not investing in areas that were fragile, one of which was a goalkeeper.
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David Ospina's arrival looked exciting after his performances at the World Cup but did not bring the assurity that was required. Now, Cech could finally give them that.
Arsenal's goalkeeping issues have been well documented. Ever since the departure of Jens Lehmann in 2008 the Gunners have failed to address a position that is so key to winning titles. Lehmann's ability and confidence played such a vital role in the 'Invincibles' campaign of 2003/4 as Arsenal became increasingly solid at the back under his presence.
No luck after Lehmann
Since then, however, Wenger has experimented on several keepers, looking for one talented enough to follow in the footsteps of Lehmann and the superb David Seaman before that. Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabianski, Wojciech Szczesny and most recently Ospina have all tried and failed to convince Arsenal fans that they are the next quality 'keeper on the block.
The need for a world-class goalkeeper has been well publicised by great managers before, such as Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson, who have both claimed that a 'keeper of such standard can earn a team 15 points a season - the difference between winning titles and losing out.
Perhaps it is part of the explanation as to why Arsenal have had the Premier League drought that they have had. A excellent 'keeper has been absent from the club for so long, but the signing of Cech finally suggests better times are ahead.
Cech is the one
The Czech Republic international's legendary Premier League status is something hard to ignore. He played over 400 games for Chelsea during a highly successful 11-year stint at Stamford Bridge, serving as the catalyst in three Premier League titles and one Champions League triumph.
Despite losing his place to the outstanding Thibaut Courtois last season, Cech still has a save-to-shot ratio of 78% - the highest of any top-flight 'keeper during that period. And even though Cech did not have the usual amount of game time that he has been so accustomed to, he still fared better than both Szczesny and Ospina last campaign, according to the stats.
Cech saved 88.9% of all shots he faced, compared to 80.7% with the Columbian Ospina and just 67.2% with 25-year-old Szczesny. Not only that but Cech kept four clean sheets in just seven Premier League games that he featured in last term, giving him a better clean sheet average than the combined effort of Szczesny and Ospina, who had 11 shut-outs in 35 games.
Former Arsenal and Scotland keeper Bob Wilson knows only too well how transformative the arrival of Cech could be the Gunners.
“It’s an amazing possibility for Arsenal and I wish this was an absolute definite,” he told Sky Sports.
“You have to look at the impact a 'keeper like Cech has on those guys in front of him. He has been there since 2004 and he is a Chelsea legend because of the authority he has and the presence he gives. Arsenal are now in a very strong position.
"They have paid off the (Emirates) stadium and have a very good squad with a really good group of British players in there. I am delighted there is no talk about there being a deal involving Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo Walcott. I would hate that to happen and would rather say ‘no thanks, Petr Cech’s great but I am sticking with these young players I have got’."
Cech won 13 major trophies during his time at Stamford Bridge and his winning mentality, to go with his superb shot stopping ability, will be a huge asset to Wenger's side. The experience of winning major titles is something that eludes Ospina and Szczesny, and it could ultimately prove the distance to a side like Arsenal, who are craving players who have been there, won that.
Strong backing for Cech
Others have also realised how important the addition of Cech could be to Arsenal's chances next season.
“In my opinion, this signing could genuinely be the difference between who will come first and who will come second next season”, said former Gunners 'keeper David Seaman. In addition, Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher agreed that: “Cech is still one of the best three goalkeepers in the Premier League and will make a big difference not just in his quality but his presence and leadership, which should have a big effect on those in front of him.”
For the first time in years, Cech's new side look like they could be serious contenders for the Premier League crown next season. The Gunners' stunning league form after the turn of the year saw them being the closest challengers to champions Chelsea last season, even though the deficit made at the start of the campaign made it an unrealistic title challenge in the end.
The fact that Arsenal missed out on the title was due to their terrible start, which was then seen to be down to the failures of buying a quality goalkeeper, defensive midfielder and centre-back. Now, with the arrival of Cech, the emergence of Francis Coquelin and the purchase of Gabriel in January, it seems like Wenger is adding quality to areas of his team that need quality.
Arsenal's attacking prowess has never been in doubt, yet it is the strengthening in defence and now between the posts that could well take the club to the next level.
Arsenal fans, do you agree that Cech is the missing ingredient for Wenger to win the league again? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.
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