David Ospina’s arrival at the Emirates was a fairly understated move in the wake of the Alexis Sanchez deal and after Arsene Wenger gave a vote of confidence to current keeper Wojciech Szczesny, the transfer raised little in the way of media speculation.
However, there are signs that the Colombian international has the credentials to seriously challenge his Polish counterpart and become Arsenal’s first choice between the posts.
Heading into his prime?
Arsenal are fourth favourites at 8.20 with Betfair to win the Premier League next season but could Ospina’s arrival have more effect on our chances than that of Sanchez? The Colombian started his professional career with Atletico Nacional back in 2005 but after three seasons in his homeland, he was taken to Nice and has been first choice for the Ligue 1 side for some time.
The stopper really came to prominence in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers with a Man of the Match performance against Argentina and after a solid tournament in Brazil, Arsenal swooped with a bid in the region of £3m.
At 25 he should be coming into his prime but will David Ospina simply be used in the way Lukasz Fabianski was last season – a back-up in the league and first choice in the domestic cups?
Do stats lie?
A series of stats featuring Ospina v Szczesny has been published and while they make for interesting reading, can we really compare the strengths of Arsenal and Nice, or indeed the respective qualities of Ligue 1 and the English Premiership?
Ospina played 28 league games in 2013-14 with Szcsesny a near ever-present with 37. The Colombian conceded an average of 0.91 goals per match with Arsenal’s current keeper letting in 1.11. That may be cause for optimism for Ospina supporters and it’s widely argued that the new man was playing in a far worse team last season.
An average of 3.39 saves per goal, compared to Szczesny’s 1.95 seems to back up that particular theory but aside from the top two of Monaco and PSG, the French elite league is a poor one and Ospina’s admittedly impressive statistics would be severely tested in England.
Taking other qualities into account such as punches, catches and distribution accuracy, the two men are very evenly matched but some will see David Ospina’s form in 2013-14 as a good reason for giving the Colombian a chance in the forthcoming campaign.
A fans’ favourite
Wojciech Szczesny is certainly a popular figure with some sections of the support thanks to the selfie on the White Hart Lane pitch and his general antagonism of Spurs players and their fans. However, there is more to holding down a number one position than simply winding up your closest rivals.
The Pole was undoubtedly impressive in some games and was definitely responsible for stealing points in tight finishes. However, there can be an issue with consistency and that’s another example of where Ospina may be given a chance.
But how do the supporters view it? A poll conducted by goal.com saw the current keeper lagging behind and at one stage, 95% of Arsenal fans wanted Ospina to replace Szczesny. Wenger rarely, if ever, strays from his promises however so the majority may have to be patient.
One thing is certain and that is the fact that we now have two quality keepers at the club and for the first time in a number of seasons, we have a serious battle for the number one jersey. Right now, it’s Szczesny’s to lose but David Ospina seems a perfectly creditable candidate should the Pole’s form dip during the new campaign.
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