The Problem with Petr Cech
The final piece of the puzzle, the piece that will give the team a winning mentality; the part that will make the whole greater than its sum. A part that could finally make - The Professor, The One.
The guns came out blazing, a treble of trophies they won but unfortunately, that was before the season had begun.
Yes, if you still haven’t figured this out, this is about Petr Cech, and the transformation he was widely expected to have on the Gunners.
Petr Cech probably had his worst game in the Premier League, and that includes a match where he actually fractured his skull.
The Gunners went down 2-0 at home to a West Ham side, that Arsenal fans would expect to beat at the Emirates and now with a clean sheet too, with the 'final piece' in between the posts.
Only for them to discover that what made Petr Cech the goalkeeper he is, was actually 10 miles away - the Chelsea defence.
It was the same problems again for the Gunners, with the first West Ham goal coming through a set piece with Cech unable to rush out to prevent Cheikhou Kouyate from heading in. The second shot on target he faced also went in, as Cech was caught wrong footed and a Mauro Zarate shot that was very saveable went in.
Different set and style of defenders
Before considering any wild suggestions of a Jose Mourinho conspiracy, there might be something Arsene Wenger should look into.
The problem lies in the fact that there is a huge difference in the kind of protection he is used to. For the first goal, Arsenal’s man marking was dismal: Kouyaté had Nacho Monreal who is almost half a foot shorter, covering in front of him. The 6 foot 3 inch tall Senegal giant easily lost his marker and headed beyond Cech, who attempted to punch the ball clear.
Whereas, at Chelsea, a lot of things were different for Cech. Firstly, Chelsea held a much deeper line for free kicks, leaving very little room for anyone to run in and attempt headers. Mourinho simply matches the opponent's best headers of the ball with his own, as opposed to Arsene’s zonal system. And of course, Arsenal can sometimes be outnumbered when it comes to players who can provide the height and physicality at set pieces; something, which was clearly not an issue for Cech at Chelsea.
The events that transpired which led to the second goal were also unfamiliar to the debutant keeper. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain lost the ball close to the penalty box to Zarate, who got the ball out of his feet and snuck it past the near post. When Zarate got the ball, Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny were both within a yard of him.
If it had been Nemanja Matic and John Terry instead, you could actually picture them throwing themselves in front of the shot to cover that angle, leaving only the far post as an option for the striker, and amusingly enough that’s the side Cech took a step towards. On the other hand, Cazorla just watched on and Koscielny in fact, seemed to be moving out of the path of the ball - it was probably to prevent a deflection onto goal - but that sort of defending is something that the Czech goalkeeper is just not accustomed to.
Don't doubt the quality of the keeper even for a second, he is just accustomed to a different style and set of defenders. With Arsenal’s zonal marking to Chelsea’s man to man at set pieces and no Terry and Gary Cahill to throw themselves at everything, Cech might take some games to get used to his new teammates. That is when he may just prove to be the 'final piece' of the puzzle.