Saturday, June 10, 2017

Is Wojciech Szczesny an upgrade over Petr Cech?

Arsenal have 3 goal keepers who can compete for the top spot in the first team. Petr Cech is undoubtedly the best and the one with most experience at the top. His arrival ensured the rest of the keepers won't be given much playing time. Szczesny made the decision to move out on loan (right move, in hindsight) and Ospina decided to stay back and fight for the spot. 

Wenger made it easy for Ospina to stay back by utilizing him for Champions League and FA Cup games and Cech for league games, thereby giving two keepers to continue playing regularly and compete for top spot. As a result, you now have Cech and Szczesny playing more regularly than Ospina. It's no surprise that Ospina has now decided to move on. 

Arsenal are now left with Cech as no 1 and no one to compete with him. Arsenal are in market for a top goalkeeper. Szczesny can come back but he will now need assurances to more playing time. And he's not the old Szczesny we know. The boy seems to be a man now! His performances seem to suggest so. Juventus are in market for a new keeper after Buffon and seem to be looking at Szczesny. Isn't that his biggest appraisal? The legendary Buffon to be replaced by Arsenal's own. Are we missing a trick by letting go of him, if it actually happens? 

Let's analyze if Szczesny is actually an upgrade over Cech - 

Statistical Comparison between Szczesny (past 3 years) and Cech (past 2 years) - 

Szczesny vs Cech - Statistical comparison - Part 1 of 2

Szczesny vs Cech - Statistical comparison - Part 2 of 2

The biggest argument against Szczesny being Arsenal's no 1 was the fact that he made a significant amount of mistakes at the post and would hand over the advantage to the opposition. He was more leaky in front of the post and his decision making wasn't top notch. But Arsenal knew he was special talent, just not one of the best. But has that changed now? It appears so, if stats are to be believed. Szczesny's clean sheet count over past 3 years show significant improvement. In 2014/15 season, he had 0.18 clean sheets per 90 minutes which went up to 0.24 a year later (on loan) and 0.37 last year. That's about 2 clean sheets in 5 games. It may not be among the best, the improvement is visible. Even the saves count has improved from 1.68 (at Arsenal) to 2.45 (last season). His distribution accuracy has improved, which indicate he is involved more in the game and making less mistakes. Compare these stats with Cech and you realize you are getting a much improved Szczesny compared to a consistent yet slowly diminishing keeper in Cech. 

The biggest attributes that should excite Arsenal management and fans alike are the "defensive errors" and "Errors leading to goals". This is where Szczesny lost out to Cech. He has improved by leaps and bounds here. 0.05 defensive errors mean 1 error in 20 matches. We couldn't relate that stat with Szczesny when he was with Arsenal, could we?  

Conclusion - It won't be right to state that Szczesny is better than Cech, but we must admit he can now be compared with Cech in terms of stats and ability. The loan move to Roma has improved Szczesny to an extent where he can return to Arsenal and stake claim to what was originally his! Also, we need to note that Cech had better defenders in front of him last season compared to Szczesny during his last season with Arsenal. That plays a part too. Now with added support in defense, there is no reason to believe Szczesny can't flourish in an Arsenal shirt. 

Bring back Szcz. We need him.

Stats compiled from Squawka Comparison Matrix - click here for link

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