Last night I watched Manchester United take on Sevilla in the first leg of their Champions League battle. Yet again, David de Gea put in another MOTM performance. He recorded 8 saves and kept a clean sheet despite Sevilla taking a whopping 25 shots! That performance, of course, reminded me of Arsenal’s only home loss so far this season. In that match, we dominated in attack letting off 33 shots (16 on target). De Gea couldn’t keep the clean sheet but he managed to save 14 shots in one of the best goalkeeper performances I’ve ever seen. They won that game 3-1.
Petr Cech has had some good performances this season, but overall, he’s left much to be desired. I love the guy and believe he’s one of the best professionals out there, but there’s a reason Chelsea were willing to sell him. Courtois had been on loan with Atletico Madrid for several years and had shown tremendous promise. Less than a year after Courtois stepped into the starting role, Cech was sent across London to Arsenal. The goalkeeper position is like no other in football. Depending on your formation and tactics, there’s plenty to consider when picking starters in defence, midfield, and attack. You might choose someone who’s less proven overall if they excel in a certain area that complements your game plan. But when it comes to goalies, you’re either the starter or your not.
In today’s fast-paced, attack-heavy game it’s vital that you do all you can to ensure your team is set up for success. This includes buying or raising up a world-class keeper. With rumours of Ospina leaving and Cech retiring, I thought I would take a look at how our season would be going if we had a world-class keeper between the sticks.
Based off of save percentage, David de Gea ranks top of the Premier League with 80.6%. Petr Cech is all the way down in 16th with 62.2%. What if Petr Cech stopped shots at that 80.6% rate (I understand this stat doesn’t take into account the quality of the shot, but it’s the best I have to work with)? Instead of 61 saves and 36 goals allowed he could have something closer to 79 saves and 19 goals allowed.
With an incredible 17 fewer goals allowed, where would Arsenal find themselves in the table? By merely scanning up and down this season’s fixtures and shaving off 17 goals throughout, this is what I concluded…
After what I think is a fairly conservative estimate, I believe those additional saves could’ve netted us at least 8 more points. We could’ve claimed a few draws instead of losses against teams like Stoke, and even a win or two with those saves applied to games like the 3-3 Liverpool draw. With 53 points, Arsenal would be a favourite in the race for top 4 instead of looking on from the outside. Points are too precious to take for granted in this hyper-competitive league. This begs the question, is a new goalkeeper at the top of our transfer list this coming summer?