Arsenal’s acquisition of Chelsea’s stalwart stopper Petr Cech was billed as the signing that would bring 11 Premier League title-less years at the Emirates to an end.
A world-class goalkeeper, it was thought, was the only component missing from a side that excelled in almost every other department.
Indeed, confirmation of Cech’s Stamford Bridge departure prompted a flood of eulogies from former Blues colleagues, with John Terry especially effusive about the Czech gloveman’s abilities, suggesting he will bring Arsenal ‘12 or 15 points a season’.
Based on Terry’s assessment, the Gunners would be as low as tenth had they not signed the 33-year-old last summer, with just 45 points procured from 33 games.
Having never fared so badly with supposedly inferior net minders between the sticks, it would seem Cech hasn’t saved the club the substantial number of points the former England skipper forecast.
In fact, those who saw Yannick Bolasie’s tame effort squirm through his grasp during Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace last time out will be aware that, on this occasion, he cost them a win.
Cech was quick to absolve himself of blame in his post-match interview, stating:
“He [Bolasie] fired it along the floor, the ball skidded very fast, I got a touch but the ball was already behind me.
“We had chances to score the second goal but didn’t find the back of the net.”
With Palace mustering just two shots on target en route to recording the draw, Arsenal’s number one has certainly had busier afternoons. A keeper capable of saving 12-15 points should be stopping routine shots at his near post, no matter how fast they’re skidding.
But is this the only instance in which the £11m keeper has cost the Gunners? Afraid not.
Starting at the two points spilled against Palace, we go back to the season’s opening day, when he inadvisably came tearing out of goal to claim a cross against West Ham United – he missed it, allowing Cheikhou Kouyate to score the opener in the Irons’ 2-0 win.
The running total reads: 3 points.
He failed to get a strong enough fist on the cross that led to Mikel Arteta’s own goal in the 2-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion.
A full palm met Joe Allen’s volleyed equaliser in Arsenal’s 3-3 draw at Liverpool, but it couldn’t repel the shot.
Finally, his lack of bravery enabled the more courageous Ashley Williams to nod home the decisive goal in Swansea City’s 2-1 Emirates win, which formulates to a grand total of seven points lost courtesy of Cech blunders.
Adding those points to Arsenal’s current haul would leave them a surmountable six points shy of pace-setting Leicester City with a game in hand.