Following the news that Petr Cech was making the move across London this summer, many fans and pundits alike saw this as a major coup for Arsenal, but following a disappointing start to the Czech international’s Arsenal career the jury is currently out on whether he has what it takes to make Wenger’s side into major contenders.
On the 2nd August there was a much different feeling around the Emirates compared to this morning. Cech was lifting Silverware and trumping his former club Chelsea in the process. When West Ham rolled up to North London yesterday not many were given Slaven Bilic‘s side a prayer, especially following their shocking performances in the Europa League qualifying rounds.
Arsenal never got out of the traps, nor really put the visitors under any pressure, Cech made two mistakes either side of half-time that saw The Hammers take all three points back to Upton Park. West Ham’s first goal resulted from a Dmitri Payet free-kick, Arsenal’s debutant misjudged the flight of the delivery and Cheikhou Kouyate nodded home from close range, this was a big blow going into half time with many expecting better in the second half.
Arsenal bossed possession as expected but with little penetration, West Ham got their second just before the hour mark, Mauro Zarate capatilised on more slack defending from the home side firing past a helpless Cech to all but seal the points.
In truth it is very early in the season to suggest that he is not up-to-task, he has proven in his 11 years at Chelsea that he is a top quality keeper and has not become incapable overnight. You don’t make 333 appearances for a side that has enjoyed countless success without having something about you, 33 years of age is relatively young in goalkeeping terms and he has at least four good seasons left in him at the top level.
Arsene Wenger does not have the best of records when it comes to the opening day of league season, if you forget last year’s hard fought 2-1 win at home to Crystal Palace– they have not won their first premier league game of the season since 2009 when they ran out emphatic 6-1 winners at Goodison Park.
If there is one thing that Cech and his Arsenal team-mates have in abundance it is character, this is something they will need to show if they are to bounce back immediately and avoid a second straight defeat.
It is easy to single out the former Chelsea shot stopper as he is the last line of defence, upon reflection it was a bad day at the office all round and Wenger got his team selection wrong from the outset.
Last season Arsenal were at their most dangerous with Santi Cazorla alongside Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey on the right and Mesut Ozil playing off the front- this was not the case in their opening day home defeat.
Ozil was asked to play on the left, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain took up his familiar right side role, while Cazorla played in Ozil’s usual No.10 role- this looked unbalanced from the word go. The lack of width was a factor all game, the absence of Hector Bellerin was a major factor, Mathieu Debuchy was the young Spaniard’s replacement and looked ring rusty to say the least, but he was not the only one.
During pre-season the Arsenal squad have made a big thing of saying they are not “a one man team”, it is that team ethic that they must show if they are to put the old demons to bed, and mount a serious title challenge as many believe they can.
Arsenal’s form at the end of last season took many by surprise, Wenger eventually dropped Wojciech Szczesny due to his poor performances, this allowed new arrival David Ospina to be given his chance- a chance he grabbed with both hands.
You could argue that Ospina deserved a chance this season as Arsenal’s No.1, it still remains to be seen whether he will have to play second fiddle due to the arrival of the Czech Republic No.1, it is safe to assume that Cech did not swap the Stamford Bridge subs bench for the Emirates one.
Ospina featured for Colombia in this summer’s Copa America and has not been back in training for long, the former Nice keeper has stated his desire to “fight for his place” , but this may be a tall order once Cech has settled into the Arsenal starting XI.
Arsenal fans will be hoping that the summer’s transfer spending is not over, following a poor start to the season fans will feel once again that the underlying defensive issues and the need for a world class striker has no been address for yet another campaign.