Arsenal have a point in Paris

All I have are questions.

Why start Ospina? Yes, he had an OK second half (he was at fault for some of the “big” saves he made) but what is the real reason we are starting Ospina in the Champions League? Wenger did this last season and it failed miserably, so why are we back at it again? What is the real reason why we are starting Ospina over Cech? Wenger refuses to answer but seems to hint that there is some kind of agreement that Ospina will play in the Champions League and Cech in the Premier League. But how does that makes sense? The defense needs consistency as does the offense and the keeper is the alpha and omega of both of those things.

Defenders want to know what their keeper is going to do on crosses and whenever a ball is played over the top. They want to know where he’s going to be positioned on corners and whether he is going to claim. On offense, you need to know where the keeper is going to play the ball, where he is going to kick the ball, and how far he can kick it for goal kicks. And most importantly you need to have consistency in all of these things. If one goalkeeper kicks the ball 10 yards shorter than another that changes the way the entire offense starts. If one goalkeeper is stronger at claims, that changes the way that the center backs and fullbacks play on corners. Couldn’t you see this uncertainty in the back line for Arsenal? Di Maria sure did and tried to score two times off corners.

And even more perplexing is that Arsene started Ospina, who cannot kick long, and also played a counter attacking team full of tiny little players. In other words, Wenger started a team full of tiny players who were going to struggle on corners and in the air that was set up to somehow defend for their lives but who had no outlet to lump the ball to and no ability to lump the ball to him! What was that?

And why are Arsenal supporters lauding Ospina’s performance? He had one good save against Cavani, late in the game when Cavani shucked off Koscielny and he came out to get a hand on the ball. But other than that he was absolutely tragic in the first half and the only reason that the score wasn’t 6-1 is because Cavani is one of the worst finishers in football history. Maybe you missed all the big chances that they created against the back line? They are available on the, here is Cavani shooting wide after rounding Ospina, Cavani shooting straight into Ospina, Ospina giving the ball away and making a decent save off a rushed di Maria shot, Cavani chesting the ball down and then falling over! Most of his “highlights” in that game were because he was out of position to start and was able to miraculously recover. That is hardly “world class” keeping, that is shaky keeping and that breeds uncertainty in the back line.

And let me ask one more question about Ospina… don’t you think Cech would have made all those same saves? Cech is especially good at saving big chances, he was the best in the Premier League last season at big chances and shots on target in prime areas. But in the end we don’t even have to argue about whether Ospina was world class last night because given that Arsenal are struggling with consistency both in attack and defense and that we have slotted in a new center back who looks completely lost in the “system” then starting Ospina instead of keeping Cech as number 1 is an absolutely pointless gamble.

Speaking of… why is Arsene Wenger not playing Xhaka? I don’t care what his price tag was this summer, when he plays he immediately makes Arsenal much better in possession, so why aren’t we playing him? Why was he rested this weekend and then not played until the end of the game on Tuesday? Is it a training thing? Is he not training hard enough for Wenger’s liking? Is it a loyalty thing? Is he just being loyal to Coquelin? Does Coquelin have a voodoo doll of Wenger in his locker and whenever Wenger tries to drop him, Coquelin sticks pins in the doll? Did Wenger select Ospina just so that we would all forget the fact that he has now rested Xhaka in two consecutive matches and that Arsenal have struggled in possession in both of those games???

And what the actual FUCK is going on with Arsenal and these 20 minute starts to every match now where half of the players look like they are playing in concrete boots?? On the weekend it was Southampton. On Tuesday it was PSG. And against Liverpool, Arsenal switched off at the start of the second half. Wenger blamed the Euros but Elneny and Chambers didn’t play in the Euros and they were the main culprits in that Liverpool match. Against Southampton it was Cech’s own goal and his positioning (yeah yeah yeah, he’s no better than Ospina, whatever). Against PSG Ox was still napping, Mustafi looked out of it, and Ospina didn’t claim. Not only defensively but on offense the team seems to forget how to play basic football for much of the first half of all of these matches. They are often leaving giant spaces between center backs and midfield, the midfielders seem allergic to the ball and each other, and the forwards are left running around without service. What makes it even more strange is that it happens in every match and then it gets corrected in every match. How is that happening a month into the season?

What has happened to the British Core? Do you remember Wenger saying he was hoping that the core of the English national team would be Wilshere, Ox, Walcott, Gibbs, and Chambers? Only Walcott is an automatic starter and the only reason why Walcott is an automatic starter is because he is the only player we seem to have left in that position. The rest of those players either ride the pine at Arsenal or ride the pine somewhere else, so what exactly happened to these players? Is Wenger to blame for not teaching them basic tactics? Like tracking your runner? Like not giving up huge gaps in midfield? Like staying switched on for 90 minutes?

What is the magic that Ox does to make Arsenal fans wish that Theo Walcott would start? Isn’t he just about the most tragic figure you’ve seen in an Arsenal shirt? Why is he not doing his defensive duties? Why is he letting Serge Aurier get past him and making Monreal cover two players? Why can’t he seem to play basic football? There are a lot of reasons why a physically talented player won’t make the jump up to the next level and probably the most common is that they lack the mental fortitude to make the jump. Is that the problem? Or is he part of the failing of the British Core mentioned above?

And here’s one for the positive folks (not that I’m not positive – I must be since I thought this up!) what does it really matter? After all, if I told you that Arsenal would go to Paris and get a 1-1 draw against PSG, wouldn’t you have been happy with the result?



  1. Too negative about Ospina, man. Some of it is too harsh on him. But spot on with the rest of the team. Can we stop playing Alexis at CF already?

    Man, at the end of the day, can only put it on the manager. Oh Wenger, what is happening? 🙁

      1. Indeed, I would say, in terms of natural ability, he’s worse than Szczesny, though his additional maturity may mean he’s still a better keeper overall, for the time being.

          1. Ospina’s being played to curry favour with his brother-in-law, James Rodriguez. That’ll be our next summer transfer when we’re all screaming for a new left-back.

      2. Nailed it, sir. Ospina is no better than Szczesny, and is older to boot, but Szczesny got the old heave ho, and Ospina stayed. Is it because “Ooooooospinaaa!” is such a sexy chant?

        1. Thanks, I seem to have struck a chord with the Arsenal supporters on this one. With some it seems to resonate, with others it is pure dissonance.

    1. Right on. Where was the “why did he start with Alexis as CF???” question??? That was a big, weird call.

      I agree about Oopsina though. And Wenger had that cocky glint in his eye at the end, too, that, “who’s laughing now?” glimmer that suggests he’s going to keep on making these kinds of super whimsical, counter-intuitive decisions that leads us all to distraction.

      Not that failure ever puts him off! Hell no. In truth, I think the man’s getting on a bit. He’s past his mental prime.

      And here’s something else I’ve not seen brought up: if Wenger’s rubbish/weird decisions pitch us all into agony (and it is agony, right? who wasn’t looking forward to that fixture right up to the millisecond they laid eyes on the team sheet – and then, “arrrghuhhheeee”), how must it make the players feel, stepping out onto the pitch????

      Like the manager’s already stuck a white flag in the pitch, is how.

  2. Cavani should have gotten carded for simulation after trying to draw a penalty against the ball.

  3. Stop complaining you idiot. There is nothing positive in your article. Tired of idiots like you thinking they can say anything.

    1. Stop complaining you idiot. There is nothing positive in your reply. Tired of idiots like you thinking they can say anything.

    2. Well, he CAN say anything. Not just because it is his blog (it is), but because freedom of speech is protected by the Constitution.

  4. The first question has an obvious answer – Wenger has to play Ospina in a certain number of games so that Ospina is willing to stay at Arsenal as the backup GK. Whether you agree with that decision or not, it is the answer to the question. Given this constraint, he should have selected the rest of the team better to accomodate it, yes.

    I also agree that not playing Xhaka was puzzling.

    And I’m also happy with the point.

    1. But that begs another question: why would Petr Cech be happy not playing in the Champions League?

      I mean, I know that we have no chance of winning that competition but just imagine a minute… what if Arsenal won the Champions League and Cech didn’t get a medal?

      I mean, wow.

      1. Tim, hugh respect for your analysis, but don’t agree on Ospina. It’s clearly not an easy decision. Ospina is a world class goalkeeper and he showed it against PSG. It’s a tough call, but squad management is about making tough calls. 22 into 11 can’t go. And Cech for me is not undroppable. He makes goal-allowing errors now and again. He’s not the keeper that Chelsea had in his prime, and IMO, there’s a comparatively inconsequential difference in quality between them.

        Brave call by Wenger, and the right one, as events proved.

        1. One being able to actually intercept crosses, command his box, and catch the ball while the other has opponents shooting on goal from corner kicks is hardly inconsequential.

        2. No, the events do not justify the call. He made one good stop in that match. He was responsible for several other gaffes which put the Arsenal defense in real trouble and which conceded big chances. His only positive is that he was able to make up for his massive errors with spectacular looking saves (two of them). For the rest of the match he was poor and part of the problem with the defense.

          Also, my point about consistency is being glossed over, it’s hugely important. As is my point about Cech being left out in the cold.

          And let’s not forget that while he made one massive stop when he rushed out to deny Cavani he also blew another one that should have cost a goal.

          I think Cech would have made all the same saves (especially on Cavani) and I wonder if he wouldn’t have just claimed that Aurier cross that Cavani scored while Ospina was napping.

        3. Whether Cech would have saved this or that shot is pure conjecture. These things are highly subjective of course and I have no way of definitively proving it, but Cech is not head and shoulders above Ospina as a keeper. He’s No.1, and the better keeper, but not so far better that our Colombian international keeper should be restricted to League Cup games.

          Ospina played well overall when he deposed Szczesny. Sure he made mistakes (all keepers do, including Courtois, De Gea and Lloris, arguably the best keepers in the league, and the likes of Manuel Neuer), but he had some of the best stats in the league. That we got Cech seemed to be more through great opportunism than desperate need. Certainly we needed an attacker and a defensive midfielder more than we did Cech.

          Your point about Cech is sound. He’s not going to like it one bit. And he did not play badly, as is the case generally when keepers are changed. I credit Wenger for a ballsy call. You’ve got to find meaningful game time fora keeper of Ospina’s quality.

          1. This. If we want to keep Ospina, he needs to play some games. Since he didn’t agitate for a move after an impressive Copa, I assumed he had been promised the cup competitions again. I also assume that this has been explained to Cech and he is ok with things too. I was a bit baffled when the commentators were so surprised by the selection – I fully expected it (though I was still baffled myself by the absence of Xhaka, the presence of Chamberlain and the absence of a striker…). Ospina is a good keeper, who played really well the other night. He’s not quite as good as Cech, and had a few howlers over the years, but he’s a whole lot younger. If we can keep him happy till Cech retires we will have continuity at ‘keeper. If Cech gets injured, we have a top class replacement ready to come in as required. The cost is (debatably) reduced performance in a competition that we’re not going to win anyway (I just want us to avoid our annual drubbings this year, while building experience). This seems like good squad management management to me, and certainly the least bizarre of Wenger’s decisions the other night.

      2. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cech play in the knockout rounds. I didn’t say that Wenger must have promised Ospina ALL the Champions League games. 😛

        1. That’s what happened last season: Wenger started Ospina, he was a disaster, Wenger dropped him for Cech.

          1. Sure, and that may very well happen again this year. Or Ospina may perform satisfactorily in the group stages and Cech may play in the knockouts anyway.

  5. I could not agree with you more regarding Ospina. Yes, the guy makes some incredible looking saves, but as you pointed out; it’s mostly to do with poor positioning, giving the ball away, or deflecting a shot right back into danger.

    He has absolutely no presence in the box. Most aerial crosses consist of him misjudging the ball and running into an opponent/teammate, or staying glued to his line like a deer in headlights. He almost got scored on (again) from a corner kick. His distribution is awful, often missing the field entirely off of a goal kick.

    I can speak from experience in saying that having a trustworthy goalkeeper behind you changes the way you approach a match. This goes all the way from the defenders to the strikers. I am as stumped as you are as to why he got the nod yesterday.

  6. Here’s my new working theory on why we start so slow… The manager is notoriously NOT a motivational leader. The manager does not game plan before a game and drill the execution into the squad so come game time confidence and self-belief are sky-high. The manager makes curious game selections that even the players have difficulty understanding. All this in combination fails to fire the team up.

    Per your previous article about Pep, if you read Pep Confidential you can understand why a City or Bayern would come out of the blocks flying high; the manager’s energy is infectious, the team has been given a clear and intelligent game plan that they all believe is correct and will work, and the best players available have been selected.

    You’re Ozil and you know you’re going to play in Paris against a high quality squad… your manager picks Ospina, sits Giroud, Perez and Xhaka and goes with Ox over playing Iwobi wide right and putting Sanchez on the left where he’s best.

    1. So the manager is:

      1. Not a good motivator
      2. Doesn’t do game drills
      3. Not great in tactics
      4. Doesn’t teach defending
      5. Plays players in wrong positions

      So what exactly does he do beside teaching players how to play a through ball??

      (not disagreeing with you, just asking the obvious question)

  7. Cavani was Arsenal’s MOTM.

    I found the starting eleven selection utterly baffling. We looked 100% better in the second half when Wenger finally put the players in their best positions…and took off our greatest liability on the pitch. Surprise! I don’t understand why he takes gambles like that. Even he must know the Alexis striker experiment is failing, that Giroud is currently the only player who gives us an outlet up top, that Ox is done and has been for two years, and that we’re better in possession and without it when Xhaka plays. Right? But no. Wenger’s a Kenny Rogers fan.

    1. Hah. That was the first thing I texted my friends after the game. Cavani was definitely our MOTM.

      1. Statistically, Ospina had one of the best shot-to-save ratio in his modest number of appearances in season 2014/2015. I think he’s as good a shot-stopper as Cech. His downside is decision-making and dominating his area aerially. These conjoined problems are largely due to his lack of height. I find it difficult to blame a man for a physical attribute or the lack of it. If anyone is to blame it’s Wenger. He bought him and decides if and when to play him.

      2. Too much is made of height. Shay Given was one of the better keepers in the EPL for years. Kier Casillas is hardly a giant. With game time comes form, with form comes command. It’s true that in England, refs won’t blow for say, Huth, barging into Ospina — but THAT is Ospina’s problem rather than general skittishness. So playing him in Europe is all the more logical. Not that he’s done badly in the poem, eh?

        And not saying he doesn’t make mistakes.

        1. Shay Given??? That’s an odd call.

          I have no problem with Ospina’s height. A guy who is 6′ tall should still be able to win the ball in the air over a guy who is 6’7″ because he can use his hands.

          But I think Ospina’s Champions League record disproves your theory about him being better in Europe: he conceded 8 goals in 3 apps last season in CL.

          I know that he had that one season when Szczesny was dropped which made him look good but it has been rapidly downhill since.

    2. I fully agree and I think the team selection does affect how we start the game, namely asleep. So I think there’s a lot of merit to pires’ goatee’s theory

  8. I do not understand what is going on with Xhaka. Our best performance of the season came with him as a starter. I don’t think that was coincidental, even though it’s a small sample size. Coquelin really doesn’t know what to do if he’s not intercepting or tackling. Xhaka does. What is going on?! I’m really worried that Wenger has some weird thing with him and won’t play him like we need. Coquelin, in my opinion, shouldn’t even get minutes over Elneny, who really shouldn’t get minutes over Xhaka.

    What is going on?!

    1. I think because the latter half of the 2014-2015 season saw the Coqzorla partnership to be pretty effective, especially when we didn’t have possession, Wenger decided that he was going to stick with the tried and true partnership at a tough away match where we wouldn’t control possession. That’s the only logical thing I can think of – but then he seemed to be instructing Coquelin to stay higher up the pitch and press which rendered the partnership useless for the most part. And if you are going to setup for counter-attacking football why not use our new boy who made a name for himself scoring goals from counter attacks?

      Like Tim, all I have is questions.

      1. Anam does a good job of explaining the CoqZorla thing in his weekly tactics column over on Arseblog:

        We improved in the second half v. Saints because a move further forward allowed Coquelin to concentrate on playing on the front foot rather than try to make himself available and break the lines with passes (two of his worst traits) in the first half. So basically instead of trying to play around him at the back, Coq was allowed to press the ball high up the pitch and this created some good opportunities for us. It had the added bonus of allowing Cazorla more time on the ball. Wenger tried something similar against PSG but it failed owing to their superior quality; Coquelin was left chasing the ball and the back 4 was left exposed. I don’t think we’ll be seeing that particular tactic again in Europe.

        1. So, instead of playing a player who can play with the ball in the advanced roles (such as Cazorla) we are using Coquelin so that Cazorla can collect deep without having so many defenders around him? And instead of playing Coquelin to his strength of covering the center backs, we have him playing defense in areas that he gets less chance to actually defend AND when he wins the ball up there, he can’t do anything with it…

          That is the dumbest “tactic” I have ever seen from Wenger and I remember a match where he tried to play Eboue as a dm.

          Either way you play Coquelin, he clogs the pitch. In the advanced role, he’s just an advanced clogger and while it may open up the game for winning the ball back and for Cazorla to get the ball forward it KILLS the attack. I wondered why he was running forward so often.

          Please don’t let this be true. Because if Wenger is actually playing this way instead of just playing Xhaka and Cazorla, then he may be losing his mental faculties.

          I’m being very serious about that last bit.

          1. I will once again state that I don’t claim to understand tactics except in a general sense, but I seem to remember a latter day Pirlo playing from deep while the more destroyer-like midfielder went further up the field to act as a screen/decoy.

            However, I don’t think that was the plan as such. It seemed to me from Wenger’s post match presser that the players were not playing as he’d instructed them to. He said we were playing too deep, leaving Alexis isolated. Perhaps Coquelin was the only one who listened and carried out the instructions to stay higher up the field, while everyone else dropped off under the PSG press, making his forays forward seem more pronounced.

            Not saying Xhaka won’t be better. But there must be a reason for him not starting, no? That we don’t understand something makes you jump to Wenger losing his mind as an explanation/criticism is poor form, Tim. It’s the sort of stuff people on LeGrove say.

          2. That’s not the reason I’m suggesting that there might be something else going on. Wenger has been increasingly erratic, saying things in press conferences that are patently untrue, forcing lineups that make no sense, last summer when he only bought Cech… flipping Cazorla and Coquelin is just the latest in a long long of strange decisions.

          3. Wenger is doing what Wenger does early season. He experiments with personnel and formation. I think he sees the early games as being more okay to drop points, so you can make them up later. Remember he did this last year? He’ll revert to form, play his best (uninjured) eleven in a few weeks, not rotating when we think he should. This happens almost every year.

          4. He did this with Alex Song his last two years with us; Wenger encouraged a player who was basically a short CB turned DM to start sauntering up the field and next thing we know we’re exposing our back four but hey! look at that ball over the top to van Persie!

            Coquelin was so effective when he first broke into the first team because he would literally collect the ball, pass it to Cazorla, Ramsey or Ozil and then drop off and not participate in the build up any further. And as a result teams had no space in the middle of the park to exploit.

            Coquelin is never going to score 3-4 goals in a season for us, never going to make 5-6 assists or make any significant number of key passes. He’s a destroyer. Let him play to his strengths. Cazorla has the skill set to wiggle out of tight pressure, he doesn’t need space to operate effectively.

          5. I’m no expert but none of that seems like a sign of ill mental health to me. But if that’s how you rationalise your lack of understanding of Wenger’s methods (in his madness?)it’s your call.

          6. Whatever, Shard. You just keep drinking the milk. It’s stamped on the side that it expired two years ago.

  9. If the reason for playing Ospina really is contractual maybe we’d be better off paying an older keeper to be back up to Cech in the knowledge that he’ll only play if Cech is injured or off form.

    It is odd that our undisputed No.1 seems okay with no Champions League football though. You make good points about having a consistent presence in goal.

    1. I mean, he came to Arsenal because he was going to be a backup keeper. Why would he want to be a backup keeper in the best competition?

    2. Barca did it last season with Bravo (HA!) and Ter Stegen. I don’t know about other teams, but if the big teams do it then Cech doesn’t have much to complain about. Plus he’s clearly a classy gent.

  10. Don’t all the big clubs do this with their keepers for the past couple of years? Well..At least the big two in Spain do it. Can’t think of Bayern doing this. Not with Neuer.

    We do have a better backup keeper than anyone in the league I’d say. Yes, Ospina has some shortcomings, and is more suited to a ‘continental’ game rather than the English game.

    I don’t think Cech could have come out as quickly as Ospina did. Once to win a header, and once to take the ball away from Cavani. Cech would’ve conceded the penalty. Of course, Ospina came out when not needed and was stranded for Cavani’s biggest miss on the Torres scale. But he did have a good game overall.

    As for Xhaka, I offered an explanation on the previous post. He started two games where we wouldn’t be expected to defend too much, and before Mustafi was here. Perhaps integrating both into the side seems risky to Wenger. I expect Xhaka to get more starts soon though.

    I really must’ve missed something but I thought Coquelin was one of our better players in the first half. Sure, he was playing a more box to box role, but apparently we were playing deeper than Wenger wanted, with the exception of Coquelin. He was unlucky to get a yellow card, and did well to not get booked again.

    Even before the game Wenger pointed out that our fitness isn’t quite where we want it. You can criticise that or think that they’re being careful/changing their approach with some players.

    I’m not happy with that performance. But I didn’t feel the team panic like we’ve done so many times before. They struggled defensively throughout the game, but PSG are a bit good too. The players and manager said that this game would be a good test of where we are right now. What it showed is that we need to improve. As long as we keep getting favourable results in the meantime, we can’t complain too much.

    1. Coquelin is doing a Song and I put this on the manager. He is creeping higher and higher up the pitch – and I believe it’s a deliberate tactic to decoy opposition midfielders and get Cazorla on the ball in more space. Cazorla was the deep midfielder picking the ball up off the CB’s… but for me this is not ideal. It adds another step to the progression up field and as such slows our play down even more.

      I really don’t understand what the fuck Wenger is trying to do. If you want a good passer/playmaker to pick the ball up from the CB’s, then play Xhaka w. Cazorla, let Cazorla decoy.

    2. We have conveniently forgotten that the score should have been 2-0 when Ospina came out and didn’t get the ball but Edinson Cavani’d the shot.

      He was also lucky when he kicked the ball back to PSG.

      That wasn’t an example of good goalkeeping. That was 90 minutes of disastrous keeping with some absolutely lucky saves thrown in.

  11. The way I see it, Arsenal are using the first few games of the season as an additional”pre-season”. That was why, although I felt that the eventual number and quality of new players we brought in were okay, I was deeply upset by the timing. Essentially, Wenger is trying to construct a new spine (Mustafi, Xhaka, and a mobile center forward like Alexis/Lucas) and, concomitantly, a new playing identity while the season is already in progress. The issues in fact go beyond Ospina and Cech. After all, NINE of the players (according to Sam Wallace of the Telegraph) that played last night (Iwobi and Mustafi excepted)were on show in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Manchester City in January 2015 at the Etihad which was lauded as a tactical master-class and a blueprint for compactness in our games with possession-hogging elite sides. Right now, Wenger is simply trying to figure out how best to fit the new signings in the team and it’s seriously impacting both fluency and compactness. The players are clearly tentative and confused.

    1. What the hell kind of manager uses CL games and actual premier league games as a proxy for pre-season games? It’s utterly non-sensical (not your explanation, but if that’s what he is actually doing) and absolutely irresponsible.

      1. It is poor management and totally inexcusable. The buck stops on Wenger’s table. I can understand giving the likes of Coquelin, El-Neny, Gibbs and the Ox game-time if it’s done systematically as part of a rational rotation policy or for tactical reasons. You want squad players to be rust-free when they’re needed. In that light, playing Coquelin and Cazorla, who both spent the last international break practising at London Colney, was possibly a justified call against Southampton. But not against PSG: a game made for an astute passer of the ball like Xhaka against the predictably suffocating press that Emery advocates. I just hope Wenger wasn’t trying to send the Swiss midfielder a not-so-subtle reply to the latter’s assertion (during the international break)that he didn’t come to Arsenal to sit on the bench!

  12. Whatever comfort I could take from the 1-1 result is completely overshadowed by how poorly we played, especially in the first half. That we didn’t concede 5 goals is almost undeservedly lucky. I really hope the “Ox on the right and Sanchez as CF” experiment has ended. From the outset we looked like we didn’t know what we were doing. Our formation (what formation?) looked like a chess board that had been kicked over by a toddler with the pieces all over. Ox looked like he couldn’t find a big enough hole to crawl into. Our players looked lackadaisical and failed to match the energy of the opposition (again). Mustafi was dancing to techno while Koscielny was doing the riverdance. I mean I can’t remember the last time we looked so disjointed. Oh wait, I do. It was the last game. Against Southampton, we seemed unsure of what to do for the longest time until Koscielny’s amazeballs goal got us back into the game.

    I understand a lot of these problem are due to some of the new personnel involved, but there were some things yesterday that were beyond explanation. For example, why is Ox starting after having been poor for over a year? Why is our best attacking threat not playing in his favored position and instead being shoe horned into playing as a center forward? Why is Coquelin so far up the pitch to press the opposition? I get that you want to win the ball back higher up the pitch but sending Coq up there is just suicide. As it is we are a team vulnerable to counter-attacks, and our only ball winner so high up the pitch make it even worse. If he wants to win the ball back in their half, he should teach the front four how to press as a unit instead of this ass backwards style of trying to win back possession. It’s ludicrous.

    If we keep this up, we will get a hiding from a good team very soon.

      1. We basically have 9 days and 2 games before we play Chelsea. That’s not a long time to fix all our issues.

  13. I had a lot of the same questions which I kind of lumped together in my “WTF are we doing?” comment yesterday.

    Shocking to see how dysfunctional we are without Cazorla to run things.

    At least we did escape with a point as Monaco continues to stymie teams from North London. Glad we Don’t have to pay them in the group stage.

    Sp*rs were terrible in the 1st half today as well, losing 2-1!

  14. I disagree with you, Tim. about David Ospina. he made some bad kicks. but so does Cech.. So much negativity.😑

    1. I’m not sorry, Ospina is an awful keeper.

      It’s not that he makes bad kicks, my problem is that he literally CANNOT kick the ball the required distance for a professional keeper. He can barely get the ball over the halfway line. It’s just unacceptable.

      That and he’s just so janky on every set play, can’t claim the ball, and is a massive net negative in the air.

      He’s awful. He’s worse than Szczesny. I think he’s worse than Joe Hart and I think Joe Hart is a joke.

      I’m tired of pulling the punches on this player.

      Did we all get some collective amnesia about how awful he was over the last two years?

      1. Yes. Arsenal fans are excellent at that.

        My wtf moment was taking Ozil and not Iwobi off. The kid had a pretty dire game. Most of what he did was stand stock still on the right and contribute nothing. He’s talented sure, but somehow offers less team effort than Walcott.

      2. In addition to all those reasons Cech is better, I’ll add one more. When Cech is unable to hold onto the ball, 9 times out of 10 he parries it into a relatively safe area. Ospina, who can’t catch, typically parries it right back in front of the goal.

      3. Don’t agree with any of your points on Ospina. Are you seriously citing length of goal kicks as important metric? For me, Cech is getting by on reputation at this point, he wasn’t great last season and has looked worryingly slow on a number of occasions so far this season.

      4. What objective evidence has you convinced he is a bad keeper? And compared to whom? It kind of drives me nuts when people declare that player X is or is not good. It’s not a dichotomy. They perform well or they perform poorly but it doesn’t define them or their career. There are plenty of examples of players who were “done” until they weren’t, and many others who we anointed as great who didn’t turn out to be such. It’s about their progress and their development, not about the freeze frame. But even in the context of a freeze frame, Ospina is a perfectly good backup goalkeeper. I think this squad has much bigger issues than him.

        1. Agreed, and well said. I personally don’t rate Ospina, as I think his lack of stature is a serious hindrance, but he’s also not terrible.

      5. I still disagree with you, Tim. I think you should see the game once more. I did. just so I could see what u see. I could have missed something. unfortunately, I saw one poor distribution all game.

        what he has done that makes u conclude he is awful, I do not know. If u do not like him, fair enough. but saying he is awful? I’ll have to respectfully disagree on that.

        also, I maintain that Cech makes mistakes too. so does Hart, and Wojcheic too. all we want is a pair of safe hands. Ospina was just that two nights ago. what more are we asking for?

  15. MCFC look unstoppable this year, especially with Agüero back and in form. My favorite non-Arsenal Premier League player scored a natural hat trick against Borussia Mönchengladbach.

    Iheanacho is already having a great season as well. Really put poor Gladbach to the sword. MCFC look like they’ll go deep in the CL competition.

  16. Sorry Tim but I’m inclined to agree with Wenger over you on this one. Ospina got himself in trouble just once by my count on the throw out that led to a change of possession and numbers for PSG in our final 3rd; he did bail himself out there but as much as you can decry the distribution you also have to admire the timing and athleticism. On the other chances, say what you want about the finishing, he made fine saves after being exposed through no fault of his own from Aurier, then Cavani, then DiMaria. All three were clean through on goal and his quickness of his line prevented a good angle for the shot on the first two, then he made a reflex save from close range for the third.

    Having seen the replays some more, if we want to talk about positioning then we need to talk about Shkodran Mustafi’s performance… and there wasn’t much good about it.

    1) For the opener, he lets Cavani run right past him into space for the header, thinking to play offside, but completely loses track of the striker, turning his back to him to watch the cross come in. That’s poor hustle and poor coordination no matter how long you’ve been with the team. Monreal should do more to close the cross down but has too much respect for Aurier’s speed to get tight to him. Also, what a touch by Veratti to release Aurier.

    2) For their next big chance, DiMaria plays a back heel through to Rabiot after he pulls Mustafi out of position by dribbling away from goal. The CB should know he’s out of position and must prevent the pass into the space he’s vacated, but he doesn’t anticipate the back heel and doesn’t get close enough to stop the pass. Cazorala, who had been marking Rabiot, watches him gallivant into the space, and only Koscielny’s heroics save the day.

    3) Mustafi’s next test came from another Aurier cross toward Cavani on 30 minutes; he reads the play much better but shanks the cross out for a corner instead of dealing with it cleanly. Clearly a case of nerves. For the next episode of Aurier vs. Monreal, Mustafi’s positioning is good; he can see the man and the ball and matches Cavani’s pace for pace to the front post. The cross is poor, but had it been on the money, Mustafi had it covered. Monreal was also quicker to the cross and got a slight deflection on it. Lessons learned then…

    4) However for the next PSG chance, he has another learning moment: There is a harmless looking exchange of passes near our right touchline, but Veratti beats Coquelin 1v1 to the inside, there is no midfield cover (where is the wide forward?), and he plays a clever through-ball between Koscielny and Monreal. The latter gets a touch on it but that takes Koscielny out of the play, giving Cavani an opporunity to run onto the loose ball and round the onrushing Ospina. Meanwhile, Mustafi is watching this happen with a nice easy jog towards his goal. As the play developed, he had been marking Di Maria, then handed him off to Bellerin, but didn’t hustle to cover his CB partner when things started to break down and wasn’t close enough to affect Cavani’s shot, which ended up being wayward. He was similarly passive when Di Maria was put through early in the second half, watching Monreal’s last ditch efforts to put the player off (who then dove) at a half run, half jog.

    5) For the next big chance (which didn’t actually result in a shot) on 41 minutes or so, it was awful team defending, Mustafi included. Veratti shimmies away from Cazorla (what a night he had), finds Di Maria in space who has time to look up and spot Cavani making an angled run between Bellerin and Mustafi. Neither player moves a muscle as Cavani runs between them and nobody closes down one of the most prolific assisters in Europe anywhere near fast enough; the result is free chest control at the 6 yard box for Cavani, who proceeds to makes an utter hash of it. Cavani was on side and Mustafi was 10 paces behind him with his arm raised.

    To a certain point I feel for him. Talented players like Veratti and Di Maria had all kinds of time to pick their passes because our midfield was far too passive and poorly coordinated, while Cavani is a handful with his powerful runs, but on this evidence Mustafi has a long way to go to justifying his price tag. The silver lining: if he can sort out his defensive miscues, there is a lovely passer for us from the back. He consistently passes at a superb rate and picked the lovely lofted pass to Giroud which caused the penalty kick vs. Saints.

    1. I agree on Mustafi, he was also poor on the weekend. But let’s deal with a few things here.

      1) The whole team switched off. Ox let Aurier run down the middle, Mustafi (covering for Koscielny) only followed Cavani and didn’t stop him getting ball side, Ospina stood still like a deer in headlights (which is his norm on crosses/corners).

      2) The center back should be tracking one player, expect a back heel going the other direction, intercept the ball, and cover the runner? Ok.

      6) You forgot about his awful tackle which set up one of Cavani’s big chances.

      Here’s the problem though: Wenger has been tinkering with the lineups this whole time. Mustafi was even switched left and right in the game against PSG. Add to that the fact that Wenger gives them no shield by telling Coquelin to go play between the lines and of course Mustafi is going to look poor.

      For that matter Koscielny looked awful here and against Southampton as well.

      Players get a lot of plaudits from fans for making these spectacular last ditch saves (like the one off di Maria’s chance) but personally I’d rather have some defenders who didn’t find themselves so far out of position that they needed to make spectacular saves all the time.

      1. Thanks for your reply!

        1) I think everyone was kind of caught off guard by Aurier’s cross. It was a sharply hit, accurate outswinger into the “corridor of uncertainty” where it’s the CB’s job to deal with it. Mustafi just didn’t anticipate such a good cross coming in and totally lost his mark as well. I don’t see how Ospina could’ve affected that play, it came too fast and too far from him.

        2) The center back should be aware of his spacing. If he’s going to get pulled out of position because he’s following a midfielder away from his own goal, he has to get tight enough to prevent the pass back into that area. I credit Di Maria’s improvisation and also assign blame to the rest of the team for failing to track Rabiot’s run into that space. But yeah, Mustafi’s either got to either get tight to the ball or stay in his space. He did neither.

        Have to disagree with you on Koscielny; he looked second best vs. Cavani at times but was good vs. Saints. The Shane Long chance came on sort of a similar situation as the Di Maria back heel, only it was Tadic playing Long in for a 1v1 vs. Cech. Mustafi and Koscielny both got pulled toward Tadic, which left Long free. I think maybe Emery spotted a weakness in the gunners there and set his team up to exploit it.

        As far as the big picture, I agree it’s time to worry. So far we’ve turned in two halves of calamitous football (Liverpool 2nd, PSG 1st), several indifferent/impotent ones and just one half of dominant, organized looking football. The old saying is you can’t win but you can lose a championship in the first two months and based on performances thus far we are well on our way to being 10 points off the pace by December. I think we will improve (we have to) but it’s hard to get a feel for this team’s ceiling at this point.

        1. I’ve been thinking something similar, that we may already be out of the title race, but I’ve unwilling to vocalize it because of the negativity I will get in return.

          Plus, of course, I also know that there are still…102 points left to win.

          Still, it’s hard not to think that we are on the verge of being done in the title race and it’s not even October.

  17. Watching Pep instill his principles and system so quickly at ManShitty is simultaneously impressive and depressing for me. I understand that Aguero makes you a better coach than Giroud but Pep has worked with these players for a month and they’re looking a far more integrated, cohesive team than we are despite the fact our manager has been here for 20 years and he’s worked with most of these players for years. I know, I know let the season unfold and judge me in May. *Sigh*

  18. Watching Pep instill his principles and system so quickly at ManShitty is simultaneously impressive and depressing for me. I understand that Aguero makes you a better coach than Giroud but Pep has worked with these players for a month and they’re looking a far more integrated, cohesive team than we are despite the fact our manager has been here for 20 years and he’s worked with most of these players for years. I know, I know let the season unfold and judge me in May. *Sigh*

  19. Watching Pep instill his principles and system so quickly at ManShitty is simultaneously impressive and depressing for me. I understand that Aguero makes you a better coach than Giroud but Pep has worked with these players for a month and they’re looking a far more integrated, cohesive team than we are despite the fact our manager has been here for 20 years and he’s worked with most of these players for years. I know, I know let the season unfold and judge me in May. *Sigh*

    1. Shit, dude, your account is in some kind of comment jail! I’m not doing this intentionally. I promise.

    2. It used to be that Arsene Wenger was able to plop new players into his system like gears in a watch. Now days, his workbench looks more like a tinker’s bench with cogs everywhere, springs in piles, and a watch that is sort of working but seems to be running backwards.

  20. Szcz had 132 starts as a young keeper for Arsenal.
    Roma got 3rd last year with him in goal.
    The guy is very, very good!
    Ospina has great reflexes, but has serious limitations in commanding the box. He made some good saves, and caused some good saves.
    When Cech gets tired of playing futbol, would like to have Szcz back.

    Will play better next time against PSG.

    Our team will take time to gel-just imagine if it were you who had 2 weeks of practice with a team, and had to start against a team who has not lost at home in 17 matches. (hint Mustafi)

    Arsenal will come good and continue it’s climb towards the top this weekend.

  21. Arsenal’s turgid football, perplexing lineups, and tactical naïveté are turning me into a vindictive person who can only find joy in the suffering of others. Tots 1 Monaco 2 hahahaha!

  22. You’re spot on about the goalkeeping situation. Yes, Ospina did well to come out and close down quickly in several of those one-on-ones, but that’s par for the course for any champions-league calibre keeper. He saved the shots he saved because they were not well shot. And in not playing Cech, we lose an opportunity for Cech and Mustafi to improve their coordination and teamwork. It seems like madness to me to continue to play Ospina in the Champions League. The Champions League is high priority, we should be playing our best players out there barring squad rotation for tired legs. But goalkeepers don’t need to be rested. The only reason I can see to start a different keeper in the champions league is when you have a situation like Barcelona last year, when they had a young and very promising keeper that they wanted to keep happy for the future in Ter Stegen and a more experienced keeper for the league in Bravo. But I don’t see Ospina taking over for Cech after Cech retires, so whats the point?

    I think it comes down to Wenger’s loyalty to his players, and his belief in giving chances. Ospina was very professional and did a good job for us two seasons ago when Woj lost his head and then smoked in the bathroom against Southampton. Wenger doesn’t want to leave him to waste on the bench and hurt his chances of getting a transfer to a starting role in the future, or lose his #1 spot with Colombia. And if that’s the case, I hesitate to criticize the decision so harshly because its these sorts of high-minded principles and ideals that drew me to Arsenal in the first place. I can’t criticize his loyalty to Ospina in this case and then turn around and praise him for staying loyal to and giving players like Ramsey, Monreal, Iwobi, and Bellerin chances.

    …That being said, I do hope that Wenger watches the tape, sees Ospina for the liability he is, and is a little more ruthless. Pretty unlikely at this point with most of the world now under the impression that Ospina saved us and is world class.

    Xhaka is a real puzzle though. Coqzorla needs Ramsey and his energy to really work to link things in midfield properly. The beauty of Cazorla-Xhaka (Cazaka? Xhakorla?) is that Xhaka can (theoretically, since the game against Watford was hardly a test) put in a comparable defensive shift to Coquelin while stretching defenses with his distribution, which means that it can be a strong and creative base in midfield independent of the rest of the team.

    In fact I thought that the whole point and appeal of Xhaka was that he was a complete midfielder with positional discipline (unlike Ramsey), and could thus partner with Cazorla when we are on the front foot and Coquelin/Elneny when we need to be more defensive, or even with Ramsey and play the Arteta role. If Wenger wanted to be more defensive against PSG, why not experiment with Coquelin-Xhaka? I don’t think it would work, because I don’t think Xhaka understands our offense well enough to play Cazorla’s role just yet, but still its worth a shot and PSG away would be a good opportunity to try it since we can sort of afford to lose this game (losing wouldn’t hurt us in the league and we could easily still qualify for the round of 16 even if we lost). And if it works, we can use it to lock down when we play the likes of City and United away.

    Either way, I hope Wenger realizes that Xhaka needs to start, and benches Coquelin for most games from here on out. I love le Coq’s energy, desire, and aggression, but we are a possession oriented team and can’t afford to carry a passenger in midfield like that.

    As for the British core, I still have hope. I feel they all just have one or two things holding back their potential. If Wilshere could just stop getting injured, Ramsey could stop trying too hard to score himself, play with some discipline, and refine his passing, Ox could learn some subtlety and put a shift in defensively to go with his massive physical and technical potential, and Chambers could add a gear of pace, they would be very solid players. Maybe I’m looking at it with rose-tinted glasses, but I still think these improvements are possible, and I think their potential is still worth investing in. The Ox’s technique and physical ability is at times unplayable, Ramsey has incredible energy, a goal threat, a strong tackle, and a creative spark, Wilshere was once the best 19 year old in the world, and has a similar skillset to Cazorla, and Chambers showed great ability before he got found out for pace. Their development has admittedly stalled over the past year or two but I still have faith that they could kick on. Whether Wenger will make that happen is up in the air, though.

  23. Late into the comments but there is a perfectly reasonable explanation. As some has commented above, Ospina is promised games to stay with us.

    My educated guess is that CL group stages and all the Cup games are promised to Ospina. This is done with a nod by Cech. I think realistically Cech knows that this is the only way to keep an experienced keeper on the bench and not playing elsewhere as he has been in the same situation before.

  24. If you watch the match again, he had 4 big saves of which one of them was due to his error, that is the di Maria chance. All other 3 were one on ones, 2 with Cavani & 1 with Aurier.

    He kept us in it.

  25. The facts disagree with you, Tim. Ospina had a great game, barring the kick which went to the opposition and created a chance for them – which was saved. Cech’s made horrible blunders in shot-stopping so this Ospina hate is weird. He had a spectacular Copa as well, and is easily better than Hart or Szczesny.

    The team as a whole was terrible, but you’re turning the wrong person into a scapegoat. It feels as if you’re down due to the team performance (so are a lot of us), and that is affecting your rationality, mate. Pessimism over the team and gameplay? Sure. But over Ospina’s keeping? Na, that’s a tad overboard.

    PS: This does not mean I’m predicting he won’t make mistakes in the future, but purely speaking on the manner of his performance vs PSG.

    PPS: Can we have the real Arsenal@ back, please?

  26. Wenger’s team selections are driving me insane. You’re away to freaking PSG. You go with your strongest starting 11. I understand Mustafi will take a few games to settle in. Maybe he played Coquelin because he has a better understanding with the team having been there longer. But after the other bloke, Xhaka, got rested over the weekend, it made no sense to rest him again. How the hell Giroud doesn’t start is beyond me. And how the hell does Perez start over Giroud this past weekend? He’s only been here 5 minutes. I don’t understand what Wenger is doing.

  27. You have a great blog but sometimes you ruin it with your bias. I like your blog because you usually back up your arguments with facts and statistics. Unfortunately, you seem to have thrown your rational approach out of the window in analyzing Ospina’s performance.

  28. 1. Ospina had a ‘Man of the Match’ performance, yet you claim that Ospina made many mistakes in that game: ” He was out of position (…) He was responsible for several other gaffes (…) He was able to make up for his massive errors (…) He also blew another one that should have cost a goal (…) The score should have been 2-0 when Ospina came out and didn’t get the ball (…) He was also lucky when he kicked the ball back to PSG (…) Ospina stood like a deer in headlights.”
    You blame Ospina for the PSG goal, but Cavani perfectly placed the ball from 6 yards into the bottom corner. If you watch the video again, you’ll see that Ospina moves one hand but realizes the ball is already out of reach. You have no time to react with a shot from 6 yards. Ironically, the only way for a goalie to stop the header would have been to anticipate Aurier’s cross, exactly what you blame Ospina for with Di Maria’s corner.
    You claim Ospina made a positional mistake with that corner. Some goalkeepers move 1 or 2 yards in front of their line to have a better chance to collect the ball if it’s in the 6-yard box. It’s quite contradictory to point out (correctly) that Ospina poorly commands his area, and then blame him for getting a head start in aerial duels. As long as Ospina saved the corner, he didn’t make any mistake. It’s like a baseball runner attempting to steal second base and safely going back to first base when the pitcher is trying to throw him out.
    You also blame Ospina for coming out when Cavani missed an open net. If you watch the video again, you’ll see that Koscielny was so badly wrongfooted by Monreal’s sliding tackle that Cavani was already past Koscielny when he took his first touch. Koscielny had no chance to make a block. Ospina quickly read the play, and by coming out, prevented Cavani from shooting from a very good angle. Yes, Ospina didn’t get the ball, but he didn’t give away a penalty like Szczesny would have done, and he forced Cavani to shoot off balance from an acute angle.
    Ospina’s sloppy pass to Koscielny was his only mistake of the game imho.

  29. 2. You belittle Ospina by saying that he made only one good save: “He had one good save against Cavani late in the game, when Cavani shucked off Koscielny and he came out to get a hand on the ball. But other than that, he was absolutely tragic in the first half (…) He made one good stop in that match (…) That was 90 minutes of disastrous keeping with some absolutely lucky saves thrown in.”
    Palming away Di Maria’s corner was a routine save, I agree. Then tipping Di Maria’s shot over the bar and denying Aurier were good saves, but certainly saves that Cech would have made. Now, I think knocking the ball off Cavani’s feet and stopping his close-range effort with a leg save were both outstanding saves. I’m not sure Cech would have made those last two saves. In the end, Ospina made 4 big saves (PSG player clean through with just the keeper to beat) and couldn’t be blamed for the PSG goal, so it’s a great performance by any standard. And luck had nothing to do with it. Credit Ospina’s quick legs, reading of the game and good positioning in 1v1.

  30. 3. The one part I didn’t like in your criticism was your argument about consistency: “The defense needs consistency as does the offense, and the keeper is the alpha and omega of both things (…) Defenders want to know what their keeper is going to do on crosses… where he’s going to be positioned on corners and whether he is going to claim (…) On offense, you need to know where the keeper is going to play the ball, where he is going to kick the ball (…) If one goalkeeper kicks the ball 10 yards shorter than another, that changes the way the entire offense starts. If one goalkeeper is stronger at claims, that changes the way that the centerbacks and fullbacks play on corners. Couldn’t you see this uncertainty in the back line for Arsenal? (…) That is shaky keeping, and that breeds uncertainty in the back line.”
    It sounds like Ospina was entirely responsible for Arsenal’s poor performance. I just don’t like it when fans use one player as a scapegoat. That’s what happened with Ramsey a few years ago and it was completely unfair. Supporters would blame him for the team’s performance even if Ramsey had a decent game. Blame the manager for the tactical setup, blame other players for not rising to the occasion, but don’t blame one of the few players who brought his A game vs. PSG.
    Ospina has been in the squad for more than two years, so the players know exactly how he plays and are professional enough to adjust to a different goalkeeper. Barcelona has been doing it with Ter Stegen and Bravo, and Real Madrid also did it with Casillas and Lopez under Ancelotti, and both Spanish clubs won titles. So that consistency thing is a fallacious argument.

  31. 4. You portray Ospina as an awful goalkeeper by making comparisons with Szczesny and Cech: “He’s no better than Szczesny and certainly not at the level of Cech (…) Cech would have made all the same saves (especially on Cavani) and I wonder if he wouldn’t have just claimed that Aurier cross that Cavani scored while Ospina was napping (…) He’s awful, he’s worse than Szczesny (…) Did we all get some collective amnesia about how awful he was over the last two years?”
    That’s pretty dishonest. Ospina is a much better goalkeeper than Szczesny, and Cech may be a better goalie than Ospina but not by a huge margin. The problem is that a lot of supporters completely forgot how bad Szczesny was, and I’m not even talking about his attitude issues. In 2014-15, when Szczesny played most of the games in the first half of the season and Ospina played those in the second half, every football website and pundit compared their stats, which showed that Ospina had a higher save percentage and made fewer mistakes than Szczesny.
    The idea that Cech would have claimed Aurier’s cross is ludicrous. Cavani headed the ball on the 6-yard line. To intercept Aurier’s cross, Cech would have needed to be in a very advanced position and leave a huge gap between the near post and himself. No goalkeeper would seriously do that.
    You point out Ospina’s weaknesses: his poor command of the area, his shorter goal kick than Cech. Fine. But then also mention his strengths and the weaknesses of the other keepers. Ospina has quicker legs than Cech and Szczesny and is therefore more likely to claim balls outside the area or win 1v1 duels like when Cavani tried to dribble past him. Ospina has also better passing skills than Szczesny and Cech and is therefore more likely to be a sweeper like Neuer or Bravo.
    Cech and Szczesny have a better command of the area than Ospina, but Cech is one of the worst keepers for long-range shots (remember his stats last season) and Szczesny is an error-prone keeper with a massive attitude problem.

  32. FAF,
    Mate you are data mining.
    Szcz had a rotating D and in the second half of the season Ospina had the D back to full strength.
    Szcz is miles the better keeper than Ospina in the EPL as he has a Golden Glove and Ospina does not. Stats do not tell the full story if you go by that reasoning.
    Ospina has 22 starts Szcz has way over that; Arsenen knows who the better keeper was, is and will be.

    1. Re: Aaron
      The fact that Szczesny has a Golden Glove does not mean that he’s a better keeper than Ospina. First, keeping a clean sheet depends on the team’s defensive work and not just the keeper. And second, you need to play a lot of games to have a shot. Szczesny played more than 30 Premier League games both in the 2011-12 and the 2013-14 seasons. The most PL games Ospina has ever played for Arsenal in a single season was 18. No way you can win the Golden Glove by playing only 18 PL games in a season.
      You complain about Ospina’s small sample size. But do you realize that Ospina has played many more games than Szczesny both for clubs and country? Wenger watched him play for French club Nice as well as with Colombia before signing him. So yes, the manager has a very good idea of Ospina’s performance level.
      And last, you try to justify Szczesny’s poor performance by saying the Polish keeper had a “rotating defense” in the first half of the 2014-15 season while Ospina benefited from a “defense back to full strength.” That may be true, but it would just mean Szczesny facing more shots and more save opportunities than Ospina. It doesn’t impact the save percentage and the blunder percentage either.
      With Szczesny playing 17 PL games in the 2014-15 season and Ospina 18, I consider it a decent sample size to compare both keepers. And stats do tell the full story, with Szczesny making 0.18 errors per game compared to 0.06 for Ospina, and 1.65 saves per game compared to 1.94 for Ospina ( The save percentage is even more telling, with Szczesny having a save percentage of 67.1% compared to 80.7% for Ospina (

  33. Re Ospina vs Cech comparing stats for these two, De Gea and Lloris shows Ospina is clearly a notch down against Cech in dist. accuracy, avg. dist. length and even with saves. Not sure you could say he’s terrible but he’s not as good…
    here’s the squaka matrix

  34. The stats are showing you did not watch the games or interpret their meaning.
    Szcz had to deal with a porous D, which means when he tried to even attempt to make a save, there was no chance.
    Saves are not just saves, shots are not just shots and rotating personel is not the same as a solid D in front of you, so a keeper can even have a chance to make a save.

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