Tag Archives: David Ospina

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Arsenal’s International Break

The Good

Mohamed Elneny

Egypt 2-1 Congo

Mohamed Elneny played the full 90 minutes of Egypt’s World Cup qualifying win over Congo which saw his country to qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 1990.

Egypt to win the World Cup: 150/1

Alex Iwobi

Nigeria 1-0 Zambia

Alex Iwobi came off the bench to score Nigeria’s only goal as the Super Eagles became the first African side to secure qualification for the World Cup. A 1-0 victory.

Nigeria to win the World Cup: 150/1

David Ospina

Colombia 1-2 Paraguay

David Ospina featured as Colombia lost 2-1 to Paraguay, with the visitors scoring twice in the final minutes to snatch the three points.

Peru 1-1 Colombia

David Ospina and Colombia will play at their second successive World Cup after securing a 1-1 draw against Peru.

Columbia to win the World Cup: 33/1

Alexandre Lacazette, Olivier Giroud

Bulgaria 0-1 France

Alexandre Lacazette and Olivier Giroud both featured in France’s 1-0 win over Bulgaria. Lacazette started in an exciting front three with Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, Giroud was an 85th-minute.

France 2-1 Belarus

Olivier Giroud became France’s joint-seventh top goalscorer as he helped France to secure their place at next summer’s World Cup with a win over Belarus in Saint-Denis. Giroud charged through to double Les Bleus’ advantage just after the half-hour mark. Giroud played the entirety of the game, with Alexandre Lacazette an unused sub.

France to win the World Cup: 5/1

Nacho Monreal

Spain 3-0 Albania

Nacho Monreal was an unused substitute as Spain hit three past Albania in World Cup qualifying.

Israel 0-1 Spain

Monreal helped Spain keep a clean sheet as the former world champions saw off Israel 1-0 in Jerusalem, courtesy of a late goal from Asier Illaramendi.

Spain to win the World Cup: 7/1

The Bad

Sead Kolasinac

Bosnia & Herzegovina 3-4 Belgium

Sead Kolasinac played the duration of Bosnia’s World Cup qualifying defeat to Belgium, where he was booked.

Estonia 1-2 Bosnia-Herzegovina

Sead Kolasinac played the first half in Tallinn as Bosnia-Herzegovina’s World Cup dreams were dashed despite them finishing Group H with a win in Estonia. Greece’s home win over Gibraltar meant it wasn’t enough to reach the play-off round.

Aaron Ramsey

Georgia 0-1 Wales

Aaron Ramsey won his 50th Wales cap and assisted Tom Lawrence’s winner in his country’s 1-0 win at Georgia.

Wales 0-1 Republic of Ireland

Aaron Ramsey was on the losing side as Wales were beaten 1-0 by the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff, ending their World Cup qualification hopes.

The Ugly

Shkodran Mustafi

Germany 5-1 Azerbaijan

Shkodran Mustafi started Germany’s World Cup qualifying win over Azerbaijan but was substituted after just 36 minutes through injury as Germany maintained their 100 per cent record in World Cup qualifying.

Germany to win the World Cup: 5/1

Alexis Sanchez

Chile 2-1 Ecuador

Alexis scored the winning goal in the 86th minute against Ecuador to seal three points for Chile, who are now on the verge of automatic qualification to the World Cup.

Brazil 3-0 Chile

Copa America winners in 2015 and 2016 – but Alexis and Chile won’t be at next summer’s World Cup. The result that saw Chile fail to finish in the top five qualifying spots in South America as a consequence of other results. Alexis played the full 90 minutes.

The Neutral

Granit Xhaka

Switzerland 5-2 Hungary

Granit Xhaka opened the scoring for Switzerland in their World Cup qualifying win over Hungary. The midfielder capitalised on goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi’s slip to slot in from close range are just 18 minutes.

Portugal 2-0 Switzerland

Granit Xhaka’s Switzerland could still make the World Cup in Russia next summer – but his Switzerland team will have to qualify through the European play-off round after losing their decisive qualifier in Portugal.

Switzerland to win the World Cup: 80/1

Advertisements

Who will be Arsenal’s number 2 next year?

Who will be Arsenal’s number 2 next year?

In an ideal world, playing Football Manager on my lap top, I would have signed Jordan Pickford this summer.

The deal would have been easy. With Petr Cech coming to the end of his career, Pickford would have come in as Arsenal’s number two. With Arsenal in the Europa League, Pickford would have got all the cup games. League Cup and Europa League games in the first half of the year. Europa League and FA Cup in the second half.

This would amount to around 20 games depending on our progress in the 3 competitions. All a while giving Pickford the chance to train alongside a goal keeping legend, and Arsenal a close up opportunity to judge whether Pickford really is a future superstar.

After the 1st year, Cech would then be put down and Pickford, if he has shown he can deal with the extra scrutiny and expectations at a top club, would step up to be Arsenal’s number one for the next 10 years.

In joining Everton, Pickford has actually made a good decision. Rather than be a number two at Arsenal, Manchester United or Chelsea, he has joined a lesser team where he will go straight in as number one. With Joe Hart out of form and Jack Butland still not 100% after his long term injury, Pickford is giving himself the best outside chance to be England Number 1 at the World Cup in 2018.

At the very least, as long as he stays injury free, you would expect him to leap over Tom Heaton and Fraser Forster and be on the plane to Russia.

A couple of decent years for Everton, the top clubs will then be knocking on his door offering him the chance of the Number 1 jersey.

The price of £30m might be excessive, but Everton might have just signed their goal keeper for the next 10 years – that then works out at £3m a year. Or if he performs well and in 2 years joins Manchester City, Manchester United or Chelsea as their new number 1, you have to think they would be willing to pay £50m – especially considering the way transfer prices are inflating each year.

With Pickford off the table, this removes one potential option for a future understudy for Petr Cech.

Current number 2, David Ospina, is surely finally going to leave this summer? How long can a class keeper, and regular for his country, stay as number 2, playing a a dozen or so games a year?

It is clear Arsene Wenger does not think he is good enough to be number 1 in the Premier League, so he will surely be shipped out. Long term interest from Fenerbache might finally turn into a transfer.

We then have Wojciech Szczesny.

Many fans have looked at the stats and decided Szczesny was the best keeper in Italy last year, when he was on loan to Roma. They see Juventus looking to make a £14m offer for his services as the eventual replacement for Gianluigi Buffon. “If he is good enough to replace the greatest of all time, why is he not good enough for Arsenal” a friend asked me yesterday.

A valid question, and my response was reasonable. “He has had enough chances at Arsenal.”

Whilst Szczesny’s natural ability has never been in question, what is between his ears has been.

A tendency to lose concentration that led to mistakes that cost goals, and a few attitude issues, saw Szczesny lose his place in the Arsenal first team on more than one occasion. Things came to a head in January when Szczesny made errors leading to both goals in Arsenal’s 2–0 defeat at Southampton. His response was to go to the showers for a smoke, and he was dropped for the rest of the season.

Sent on loan to Italy, he has matured in the 2 years he has been at Roma, but old habits die hard. He was dropped in 2016 after once again being caught smoking following a 6-1 defeat to Barcelona. And whilst he often made match winning saves, the mistakes have not been eradicated from his game.

For me, if we still planned for him to be number 1, he should have been bought back from loan last season, number 2 for Arsenal in 2016/17 and then moved to 1st choice this season.

With a year left on his contract, Arsenal will do well to cash in on him.

That then leaves us with Emiliano Martinez.

The giant Argentinean looked OK in his very small handful of games this season. But has he really shown enough to be number 2 next season.

Let me switch the question around. If Petr Cech picked up a season long injury on 1st September 2017, would you be happy with Martinez coming in for the remainder of the season? Or until January 1st? The answer is probably no.

He might be a decent 3rd choice keeper. But he has simply not shown enough that he can be Cech’s back up. And with Arsenal also needing to search for a new first choice keeper over the next 12 months, Martinez is simply not good enough.

He would be worth keeping around for as long as he wants to be 3rd choice, but, like Vito Mannone before him, he will never be more than that at Arsenal.

That leaves Arsenal in an awkward situation. We need to go out and find a 2nd choice keeper who is happy being an understudy to Petr Cech. Happy with the Europa League games. But is good enough to replace Cech if he picks up an injury. In an ideal world, it would be someone under 25 who could then replace Cech in a years time.

When you look at the top 6’s current Number 2, you see the calibre of goal keeper we need to target (based on 2016/17):

Chelsea: Asmir Begovic
Tottenham: Michel Vorm
Manchester City: Willy Caballero
Liverpool: Loris Karius
Arsenal: David Ospina
Manchester United: Sergio Romero
Everton: Joel Robles

All 7 have been regular number for top flight sides in England, Spain, Germany or France. 4 of the 7 have played for their country, 3 of which have been their countries undisputed number 1 at some point in their career.

It will not be easy finding a number two.

Would the likes of Joe Hart, Fraser Forster or Jack Butland be happy putting their World Cup place at risk? Probably not. Maybe Arsenal could go another route and encourage the now-surplus-to-requirements Maarten Stekelenburg to finish his career as number 2 at Arsenal? Not one for the future but certainly good enough to deputise for Cech. Adrian at West Ham could be a similar senior option if they sign Joe Hart.

Could Arsenal make a move for AC Milan youngster Gianluigi Donnarumma? He certainly has the talent the be a future number one and at just 18 might be willing to spend a year behind Petr Cech to continue learning his trade. Although to go from AC Milan number 1 to arsenal number 2 might take some encouraging. With a year left on his current Milan deal, it is a move Arsenal could make.

Another young Italian is Simone Scuffet at Udinese. At 21 he is older than Donnarumma, but less experienced. Another who could be future number 1, but is he currently good enough to take over from Cech were Cech to get injured? Possibly not.

A final option (well not the final option, but the last name I am going to mention) is Germany’s Timo Horn. At 24 he has a big future ahead of him, and has already totted up over 150 games for Koln. At the 2016 Olympics, he was Germany’s starting goal keeper.

He has been compared in his career to Liverpool’s Loris Karius – who had a rough 1st year in the North-West. But he would be coming in for a year to play 2nd fiddle to Cech, rather than Karius who came in as number one

There are plenty of other options for Arsenal this summer, and it will be an interesting one to watch unfold and see what route Wenger takes us down.

Keenos

 

Arsenal set to SELL up to 11 senior players (and none are Ozil or Sanchez)

In recent weeks, the big transfer news at Arsenal has been about the contract situations of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.

It has been well written by many that both have 18 months left on their contract and are currently stalling on negotiations. Some say they are waiting on Arsene Wenger to declare his future, or for it to be announced who his replacement might be, others say they are driven by money, with rumours of a $400,000 offer on the table from China – I always laugh that the offer is ‘from China’ without mentioning a particular club.

Some say that want to ensure they are playing for a competitive club, and will wait to see if we do challenge (and win) the title, whilst Ian Wright thinks they will both sign, but will do in the summer where they will be worth even more if they take Arsenal to the title.

The future of both is concerning for all Arsenal fans, but there are another 11 senior players who’s future at the club might not be bright. And entire starting XI could leave Arsenal this summer.

David Ospina has been linked away from Arsenal ever since Petr Cech joined. Currently the clubs Champions League keeper, he is also likely to play in the FA Cup in the New Year. The Colombian will be 29 next season, entering the peak for a goal keeper. Would he really want to spend his best years sitting on Arsenal’s bench?

The writing is also on the wall for Carl Jenkinson. The boyhood Arsenal fan looks like a deer in headlights every time he puts on an Arsenal shirt. He is good enough to be 2nd choice right back behind Hector Bellerin, but in his own head, Arsenal are too big for him. His demise from one of West Ham’s best players a few years ago has been incredible.

When Frenchman Mathieu Debuchy started against Bournemouth, some were surprised he was still at the club. His contract does not expire until 2019, but with injuries now piling up, and reports of a poor attitude at times, if he is not sold next summer, he will surely be sent out on loan.

Per Mertesacker. The big German. The captain. His contract runs out at the end of the year and there has been no talk about him getting a new one. With the form of Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny, and the development of Rob Holding, Arsenal no longer require his services. He will be able to get himself a nice big contract back in Germany.

After a season of poor form, Arsenal will surely sign a stronger left back than either Nacho Monreal or Kieran Gibbs. With Gibbs being younger and English, and Monreal’s future potentially tied to that of best mate Santi Cazorla (more later), it is the Spaniard who will make way.

Another on borrowed time is Calum Chambers. After a brilliant start to his Arsenal career where he looked like an assured, ball playing centre back, he has gone backwards. Part of this is due to him being played in multiple positions – a bit like Phil Jones at Man U – and part of it due to not getting enough game time. He has made 10 appearances for Middlesborough this season but has been outshone by fellow youngster Ben Gibson. With Rob Holding also at the club, Arsenal will struggle to give to young centre backs enough time to develop. He might be saved by the fact Debuchy & Jenkinson are likely to go, meaning Arsenal need a back up right back.

Santi Cazorla has already played his last game for Arsenal Football Club in my opinion. Now 32, with 18 months of poor injuries behind (and head) of him, his contract runs out at the end of this season. I can not see Arsenal offering him any more than a new 1 year deal. Something that Cazorla will surely not accept. He has spoken previously about finishing his career at Spain, and that time has come. And he will take Nacho Monreal with him.

Another who’s Arsenal career is almost certainly over his Jack Wilshere. Playing once a week for Bournemouth does not mean he is good enough to play twice a week for Arsenal. He clearly enjoys the sea air, a lower intensity of life, and time away from his trouble making friends. Bournemouth are able to manage his work load in a way that a big club like Arsenal are unable to facilitate. Arsenal need fit players playing twice a week. Wilshere does not fit the bill.

Joel Campbell is out on loan at Sporting. With the development of Alex Iwobi, nothing will change for Campbell next year. He will still be surplus to requirements, and will either be loaned once more, or sold.

Homegrown striker Chuba Akpom is at a cross roads in his career. He has not progressed from talented youngster to senior superstar. 4 average loan deals, and Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Lucas Perez ahead of him, there will be no chance for him to break through in the future.

Lastly we come to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Whilst everyone is going on about Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez’s contract coming to an end in 2018, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s also does. Another player at a cross roads in his career, he has never really secured a place in Arsenal’s starting XI. He is getting a run now, a chance to prove himself, but if he fails to impose himself on games consistently, he might have to look elsewhere next summer, take a step down to get regular football.

 

Arsenal could end up off loading an entire XI. I wonder how this lot would get on in the Premier League:

cyr_x-ixgaasbrz

Keenos