The narrative of goalkeeper Petr Cech has been fascinating to follow over the course of the 33-year-old’s career. Hailing from the Czech Republic, Petr Cech played stints at Chmel Bisany, Sparta Prague, and Rennes before arriving at Chelsea. There, he made a name for himself as one of the best goalkeepers of his generation, winning the Premier League’s Golden Glove award three times and helping the Blues to numerous Premier League titles, FA Cups, Football League Cups, and FA Community Shields—as well as one Champions League and one Europa League apiece. Now, Arsenal signs goalkeeper Petr Cech, and he will begin a new stage of his soccer career.
Replaced by Courtois
If there was one thing that Chelsea football fans were upset about in the 2014 – 2015 season, as their soccer club claimed the Premier League for the fourth time in a decade, it may have been the benching of Petr Cech. Though he was reaching the latter years of his career, Cech was still dependable. In 2013 – 2014, he’d kept 16 clean sheets in the EPL—tying Arsenal’s Wojciech Szczęsny for the Golden Glove.
But Chelsea had Thibaut Courtois on deck, a young Belgian standout who had been on loan to Atletico Madrid since signing with the Blues in 2011. Courtois had just kept 20 clean sheets in the La Liga during the 2013 – 2014 campaign, helping the team to a league title. The strong performance gave him the bargaining chip he needed to return to England and displace Petr as Chelsea’s number one goalkeeper.
The 2014 – 2015 Campaign
Throughout the 2014 – 2015 campaign, Chelsea fans were split over Courtois. Was he ready for the EPL spotlight? Did he deserve to take over for Cech—a goalkeeper who had rarely let the football club down since his arrival in 2004?
Ultimately, the concerns over the 23-year-old Belgian star may have been valid. Chelsea ended up winning the Premier League title, but they did so with a tally of 32 in the “goals against” column—five more goals than Cech allowed in 2013 – 2014. Furthermore, Courtois only managed 12 clean sheets all season—finishing in fifth for the league, and missing out on the Golden Glove. (Manchester City’s Joe Hart won the goalkeeper award, with 14 clean sheets.)
Of the six Premier League matches that Petr got to play in 2014 – 2015, he recorded clean sheets in four of them. Still, it wasn’t enough playtime for one of the greatest keepers in the game, and few were surprised when rumors started circulating that Cech would be heading to Arsenal.
Now, the news is official! As of Monday, June 29th, Cech is confirmed to be leaving Chelsea—a club where he’s spent 11 seasons and made 486 appearances. He’s completed his medical for Arsenal, and will be donning the Arsenal goalkeeper jersey and joining his new soccer club for pre-season training shortly.
It’s unclear exactly what role Petr will serve at Arsenal. Will he be taking over as Arsenal’s number one goalkeeper? A year ago, after the Gunners’ Wojciech Szczęsny tied Cech for the 2013 – 2014, such an outcome would have seemed unlikely. After all, Szczęsny is a good deal younger than Cech (25 years old, as of April), and Cech has struggled with numerous injuries over the past few years.
But after the 2014 – 2015 campaign, it seems like Szczęsny might be out. He only played 17 football games in the EPL last season before being benched mid-season in favor of David Ospina. (He was caught smoking in the Southampton locker rooms after a New Year’s Day match, and was subsequently fined £20,000.) And while Szczęsny returned to the goal for Arsenal’s 4-0 FA Cup victory, manager Arsene Wenger might not be ready to trust him again just yet.
Cech, on the other hand, seems to be someone that Wenger is ready to trust with the fate of his soccer team. In a press release posted on Arsenal’s website, announcing Cech’s signing, Wenger said that he has long admired Petr and considers him as “one of the outstanding keepers in the world.” And since Arsenal are expected to make a big reach for Premier League title in 2015 – 2016, it would make sense to have someone who has much title experience as Petr in the goal.
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