“Goalkeepers?” you can imagine Arsene Wenger sneering. “Pah. Why?”
The ugly and brutal business of defending has always been something of an irritating distraction from the Arsenal manager’s mission, seemingly to create a team of attackers so pure and beautiful that anyone with an Emirates Stadium season ticket will die of joy. It’s no wonder Arsenal hasn’t come very close to winning the English Premier League in recent years, during which the team has played like it views not conceding goals as a kind of optional extra.
Even when Wenger did sign a good goalkeeper, German Jens Lehmann, he was a.) old, b.) crazy, and c.) got sent off after 18 minutes of the 2006 Champions League final.
Why bother spending millions of pounds on a goalkeeper, when that money could be so much better spent adding to the stock of diminutive midfield playmakers? You can never have enough diminutive midfield playmakers.
Now, though, Wenger has broken with tradition and bought someone decent: Petr Cech. The butterfingered era of Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabianski, Vito Mannone, David Ospina and Wojciech Szczesny is about to end.
Cech’s been one of the best goalkeepers in England for a decade, though he lost his place in Chelsea’s team to Thibaut Courtois last season. Still, it’s a coup for Arsenal to pry him away from one of its London rivals against the wishes of Blues manager José Mourinho. Indeed, according to the Guardian, only six players have ever directly joined Arsenal from Chelsea.
The one dark cloud on the horizon for Cech might be that Szczesny’s sure to want to fight for his first-team place, and he has a tiger. Watch your fingers, Petr, is all we’re saying. Accidents happen.