Tag Archives: David Ospina

David Ospina, New Tottenham Stadium & Race for Top 4

David Ospina

Over the weekend on loan goal keeper David Ospina suffered a horrific head injury whilst playing for Napoli.

Arsenal already have one goal keeper that plays in a protective cap, it is not yet unclear whether Ospina will have to follow the lead of Petr Cech.

I am actually surprised this kind of injury does not happen more often to goal keepers.

When you consider how often they do dive at the feet of opponents, putting their body on the line, serious injuries are irregular.

Irregular enough not to make any changes; however there is an argument to be made the goal keepers should all have to wear protective headwear. I do not think it will come in now, but it might be something that happens in the future.

Hope Ospina recovers well and Napoli continue with their plan to sign him permanently.

New Tottenham Stadium

Nearly a year late, Tottenham have finally announced when the first game in their new stadium is.

I feel it is a disgrace that the Premier League are allowing them to play games at the new ground this season, meaning that they would have had 16 away fixtures at Wembley and 3 at the new ground.

Hopefully they suffer from the new stadium slump and end up 6th.

It is also laughable that they have been praised for “freezing ticket prices as a thank you for their fans loyalty”.

The pricing structure for the new ground has already caused anger from Spurs fans; who feel they have been lied to and priced out of games. The cheap tickets are so minimal that they are not worth mentioning and fans are paying up to 33% more for a similar ticket in the old ground.

Is it really something to celebrate that they are freezing ticket prices on tickets that would have been used 3 times this season? Is it really something to celebrate that the side who have the highest ticket prices in the country for an unopened stadium are freezing ticket prices?

I guess when you have so little to celebrate in your recent history, you end up celebrating things like “the most expensively build stadium in English football history.”

And I will not comment about Tottenham spending years petitioning TFL and the London Mayor to get the name of White Hart Lane station named. They so desperately want to be The Arsenal…

Race for Top 4

Last week I blogged that Arsenal would need 75 points to finish in the top 4. A few people replied that we would need closer to 80; ignoring the historic fact that only once has a team reached 75 points and not made the top 4.

They seemed to ignore that Chelsea and Manchester United are not the title winning teams of the past. They have lost games, and will lose more games prior to the end of the season.

This was shown in the defeat Chelsea suffered at the hands of Everton.

Manchester United to win 7 of the last 8 games is an unreasonable expectation. Especially when they are still to face Manchester United and Chelsea.

With Chelsea’s defeat to Everton, it leaves Manchester United as incumbents of 5th place. They are on 58 points. For them to reach 75 they would need 17 points from the last 8 games.

That would be 6 wins or 5 wins and 2 draws. Taking into account the two aforementioned big games at home, as well as having to face Wolves and Everton away, 5 wins will be a tough task.

At the weekend Manchester United lost away to Wolves in the FA Cup. This highlights why Arsenal should not take needing 15 points from the last 8 games lightly.

We still have to travel to Everton, Wolves, Watford, Burnley, and Leicester. All mid table teams where 3 points will not be a given.

Arsenal need to win their remaining 3 home games – which will bank 9 points. I would then hope we can get 2 wins from those 5 away games, but it will not be easy.

The next round of games could be a big one for Arsenal; as Tottenham travel to Liverpool and Arsenal are at home to Newcastle.

This could see Arsenal move above Tottenham and in pole position to grab one of the 2 remaining Champions League spots.

A later sees Wolves host Manchester United (again). If Man U lose, they are facing being 2 points behind Arsenal having played a game more. At that stage they will have 5 games to go, and would need to win 4 out of 5 to challenge that 75 point mark. and still have Chelsea and Manchester City to play.

Plenty of twists and turns to come I am sure of it.

Keenos

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Who could replace Petr Cech as Arsenal number 2?

Arsenal goal keeper Petr Cech has announced his plan to retire from football at the end of the season.

Regardless of his retirement Cech was always leaving Arsenal at the end of the season with his contract expiring.

Earning £100,000 a week, Arsenal will now look to reinvest some of that in a new number 2 to back up Bernd Leno. So who are the 5 top candidates?

Fraser Forster

It does not feel too long ago that many Arsenal fans were calling for Fraser Forster to replace Cech as Arsenal’s Number 1.

Capped 6 times for England, he was England Number 2 at both the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, behind Joe Hart.

His form fell away in 2016 having returned from a series knee injury the season previous.

Inconsistent performances led him to have one of the worst save/shot ratio amongst Premier League goalkeepers during the 2016/17. However he still managed to keep 14 clean sheets.

In  July 2017, Forster signed a new five-year contract, his indifferent form, however, continued into the new season. Forster  was eventually dropped from the team in December 2017, replaced in goal by Alex McCarthy He has not played for Southampton since.

He is currently 3rd choice behind McCarthy and Angus Gunn.

There would be many benefits to signing Forster.

He would be a cheap option, is Premier League and Champions League proven and is home-grown. At 30-years-old, he has the experience and quality to come in for Leno if he were to get injured. He would also see going from Southampton number 3, to Arsenal number 2 a step up. The question mark over him would be surrounding his form.

Having not played for a over a year, what condition is he in?

Jack Butland

Like Forster, Jack Butland was at one point many fans favourite to replace Joe Hart as England number 1.

He has remained with Stoke City in the Championship despite their relegation. He has been critical of the club, branding their transfer policy as ‘farcical’.

At 25-years-old, he probably still desires a return to being a Premier League number 1. It was only last summer that Liverpool were ‘closing in’ on the signing Butland for a world record fee of £40million for a goalkeeper, according to media reports.

Butland’s conundrum next summer will be whether he joins a relegation outfit as their number 1, or decides to be a number 2 at a top club.

When you look at the Premier League, Butland would not start for a top 6 club. Watford (currently in 7th) might see him as a long term replacement to Ben Foster, beyond that, he is not really much better than what Leicester City (Schmeichel), west Ham (Fabianski), Everton (Pickford), Wolves (Rui Patricio). That would then leave Bournemouth (in 12th) and below vying for his signature.

Would Arsenal number 2 be more attractive than being a regular starter for a team struggling at the bottom of the table? Perhaps.

Like Forster, he is Premier League proven and home-grown.

Could be expensive though.

David Ospina

When Bernd Leno joined the club, it was David Ospina who made way as Arsenal were unable to accommodate 3 senior goal keepers.

He joined Napoli last summer on a one-year loan deal with an option to buy following new signing Alex Meret’s injury. The 21-year-old Italian picked up an injury during one of his first training sessions at the club following a £30 million arrival.

It is unlikely that Ospina will be Napoli number 1 next season, with the club having invested so heavily in Meret, however they still might trigger the release clause and make him their number two. They still have Greek vetran Orestis Karnezis at the club as well.

That will leave Ospina with a decision.

Either remain at Arsenal as number 2 and see out the last year of his contract, or join Napoli as their number 2.

I would not be too upset to see Ospina stay.

Damian Martinez

It is incredible to think that Argentian Damian Martinez was in goal when Arsenal beat Reading 7-5 back in 2012. He has played just 12 times since that game.

He will be 27-years-old early next season, and his career is passing him by.

Some fans will see it as “his chance next” to be Arsenal number 2, however the club need to be clinical in their decision making.

A number 2 goal keeper has to be number 1 quality.

Picture the scenario. The transfer window is shut; 1st game of the season Leno gets injured. Out for a year. Whoever is number 2 is now de facto number 1. Would you trust Martinez to play in goal for 37?

The fact he has played so little would show that the club do not rate him high enough.

When you look at the 2nd choice goal keepers at other top 6 sides, all are internationals with experience as top tier first choice keeper.

Manchester United have the Argentinean number one (Romero) and Chelsea their number 2 (Willy Caballero) . Manchester City can call on Chilean legend Claudio Bravo whilst Liverpool have Simon Mignolet. Tottenham have former Swansea number 1 and Dutch international Michel Vorm.

Back in 2014, Arsenal decided to sign Ospina instead of promote the then 22-year-old Martinez to number 2 behind Cech.

Has he improved much since then? Who knows.

Martinez has struggled to play consistently on his various loan deals. If he is not good enough to start in the Championship, he is not good enough for the Premier League.

The same can be said for Matt Macey who is currently performing well at League One Plymouth Argyle.

The likely scenario is that Martinez or Macey is Arsenal’s third choice goal keeper next year, with neither being good enough to become 2nd choice.

Nick Pope

Sean Dyche recently commented that his Burnley side have 3 very good goal keepers.

Joe Hart has been number 1 for much of the season, although he has recently lost his place to club captain Tom Heaton. Last season following Heaton’s injury, Nick Pope stepped up as number 1 and was was named in the 23-man England squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after his good form.

Hart, Heaton and Pope have all been capped by England in the last 18 months. It is clear that Burnley can not keep all 3 at the club.

Pope is the one most likely to leave, having not played in the Premier League this season.

He could be a solid back up for Bernd Leno, providing Premier League experience. Would be a cheaper option that Jack Butland.

Keenos

Arsenal facing goalkeeper crisis

Arsenal are facing a goalkeeping crisis.

Bernd Leno has been a top signing and has established himself as Arsenal number one ahead of Petr Cech.

At the end of this season Petr Cech’s contract expires. Arsenal have a decision to make whether to offer the veteran stopper a new contract or let him see out his career in France or back in the Czech Republic.

On loan at Napoli is David Ospina. The Colombian’s contract with Arsenal is not due to expire until 2020.

If Arsenal decide to dispense with the services of Cech, it would make sense that Arsenal keep Ospina as number 2 next season.

The huge problem is beyond that. Arsenal do not have a natural number 2 coming through.

Current Arsenal number 3 is Damian Martinez.

The Argentine goal keeper is now 26 and made his Arsenal debut 6 years ago. He will never be good enough to step up to number 2 at Arsenal. To be a number 2 at a top club, you have to be good enough to play 38 Premier League games.

Imagine the scenario; Leno get’s injured in the first game of the season. Out of for entire campaign. A number 2 needs to be able to step up into the role of number 1. Martinez is not that.

Arsenal’s number 2 is currently Cech. Manchester United have Argentine number 1 Sergio Romero. Chelsea with Argentina number 2 Willy Caballero.

Manchester City’s number 2 is Claudio Bravo, who spent 2 years as Barcelona number 1 and was Goalkeeper of the Tournament at the 2017 Confederations Cup.

Simon Mignolet is Liverpool’s number 2. He has played over 200 times for the club, and Tottenham have Michel Vorm who has played over 100 times in the Premier League.

Even Everton have a solid second choice keeper in former Dutch number 1 Maarten Stekelenburg.

In summary, to be a number 2 at a top club you need to be an experienced goal keeper, an international. Martinez is neither of these.

Behind Martinez is Matt Macey. The tall Englishman is now in his mid-20s.

Macey is performing well at Plymouth, but it is doubtful if he would have what it takes to be Arsenal Number 2. I would expect him to replace Martinez as number 3 next season.

So moving into 2019/20, I would expect our 3 goal keepers to be Leno, Cech / Ospina, Martinez / Macey.

The crisis Arsenal are facing is below first team level.

According to the club website, we have one goal keeper in our academy. 23-year-old Macedonian Deyan Iliev. He is another, like Macey and Martinez, who does not have what it takes to make it to the top.

After Iliev, the next goal keeper in line is talented 17-year-old Arthur Okonkwo.

Okonkwo has a bright future, with many who watch the youth teams claiming he is the best young keeping prospect we have had since Wojciech Szczesny. But he is 17. He is still a baby in goal keeping terms.

There is a 6 year age gap between Iliev and Okonkwo and Arsenal need to fill that gap.

Over the last 12 months, Arsenal have released a lot of goal keepers who had previously filled this gap.

Joao Virginia joined Everton this summer. The 19-year-old was rated by many at the club. Arsenal also released Ryan Huddart (21), Hugo Keto (20) and Alex Crean (19). These 4 goal keepers leaving have left a huge gap between Iliev and Okonkwo – and an even bigger talent gap between Cech as Number 2 and Okonkwo at the bottom end.

Last summer Arsenal signed Estonian Karl Jakob Hein. He is just 16 and was signed to fill the gap behind Okonkwo.

Over the summer, what Arsenal need to do is fill the gap between Iliev and Okonkwo.

It is likely that Iliev will leave, alongside either Martinez or Macey. That will mean 8 years between Macey and Okonkwo.

Sven Mislintat’s scouting team, and the youth scouts, will be scouring the UK and Europe for the top 21 year old goal keepers.

Someone (or even 2) that could come in and take the place of Iliev in the U23 team. Someone who within 12 months could be putting pressure on Macey or Martinez to become Arsenal number 3. You would be looking at them being 20-22.

It will be a challenge to find someone.

You will not be able to sign someone currently doing bits in a senior team. It is unlikely they would be happy stepping down from first team football to academy football – unless that are outside the top leagues in Europe.

You could pull a first team goal keeper from Poland or Norway, for example, but you are not going to be able to target someone like Alban Lafont from Fiorentina.

Although Arsenal might completely rip up the structure of the club and target someone like Lafont or Bartłomiej Dragowski (another Fiorentina youngster) and have them fill the duel role of Arsenal U23 keeper, and Arsenal 3rd choice keeper.

Arsenal will address the skills gap in young goal keepers this summer. It will not be a major signing, but it will be someone who can come in at U23 level and push for the first team squad within 12 months.

Keenos