A guest post from shottagunna ( @shotta_gooner )
By now we are all familiar with the recent punditry of Thierry Henry, when, from the comfort of his perch at Sky Sports, he declared that for Arsenal to win the league again “I think they need to buy four players – they need that spine. They need a goalkeeper, they still need a centre back, they still need a holding midfielder…”
A visitor from Mars, scrutinizing the League table, may have cause to wonder if Henry is confused; is he mixing up the red of Arsenal with the free-falling Liverpool. The Gunners have been the best performing club in the top flight since January and in the last 6 games is ranked second only to Everton with 16 points compared to Chelsea’s 14.
In my opinion Henry’s punditry is not only a public declaration of no-confidence in this squad but a virtual flip flop from his opinion two weeks earlier when he was bigging-up Coquelin in particular, famously comparing him to the tv detective Columbo, extolling his ability to sniff out any attack. Henry is no regular TV blowhard, he is an Arsenal legend who is still connected to the club, often working out with the squad at London Colney. Surely he should be aware that he is undermining confidence in players who see him as a mentor and in Wenger, whose approach to squad building is signing talented players whom the lazy pundits have doubts and turning them into world class players, a policy which he personally benefitted.
In my opinion our greatest ever goal-scorer is just another hapless victim of a certain media narrative, echoed in blogs and on twitter until it becomes conventional wisdom with barely a shred of factual evidence. This is exemplified by the repeated nonsense that somehow David Ospina is inferior to all the top goalkeepers in the PL. But as footballrepublik.com observed:
“Comparing Ospina to arguably the other top 2 goalkeepers in the league, David de Gea and Thibaut Courtois, he has the best clean sheet ratio, makes more saves per game, more saves per goal & has conceded the least goals per game.
He also boasts the best win ratio out of the three and has the most successful punches per game. Comparing him to his Polish counterpart (Szczesny), Ospina concedes a goal every 150 mins compared to every 71 mins for Szczesny.”
Those statistics are pretty overwhelming but, no matter how well he does, Ospina’s performances are discounted and subject to thinly disguised skepticism. This is best reflected in a recent headline in a very popular blog which stated “David Ospina’s win ratio makes him the second largest oil producer in the Universe.” Admittedly that was a very funny headline, but certainly a perfect example of being damned by sarcasm, a technique which this particular blogger excels.
All of us with experience of the last 11 years know that at the core of this false narrative concerning Ospina are the following facts; he only cost the club a reported £4 million, he wasn’t signed from a big club and he is not the stereo-typical huge 6ft 6in plus European type goalkeeper. Too Almunia-esque in my opinion.
Hence the usual suspects went into overdrive in the last transfer window demanding Wenger sign Chelsea’s #2, Petr Cech. Ray Parlour, who like Henry is loved by the media for being a famous ex-player (get the pattern) stated in the London Evening Standard. “It is nothing against Ospina but when you look at the games Cech has played in and the trophies he has won, he’d be a great addition for Arsenal. If you are going to challenge for the league, you need a top quality goalkeeper which Cech is.” One very popular tweep who also writes for the Metro went so far as to suggest that “A move to Arsenal would keep Cech in London, a city that has been the home of his evolution into a world class goalkeeper.” Imagine that, Arsenal has a duty to keep him in London.
Look out for more of this guff in the silly season coming up in July, worse if Ospina proves he is only human and by making a big mistake in one of the four upcoming matches. The main thing that keeps us serene in this nonsense is the wise words of our manager who said of our players in a recent interview:
“Every moment is analysed of every event on television. Just after the game the players open the television and hear ‘Why did he move on the right and not on the left?’. That was not the case before. It is the price to pay for the popularity of the sport. We have the good sides and have to take the bad sides as well.”