When goalkeeper David Ospina put pen to paper at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, all those connected to Arsenal had every right to be over the moon—but for one man.
The Colombian’s arrival on a reported long-term contract—per BBC Sport—means that current, first-choice Arsenal stopper Wojciech Szczesny’s place in the side is under threat, and the Pole will undoubtedly be wary of Ospina’s quest for the No. 1 shirt.
One of the stars of the World Cup in Brazil with the ever-impressive Colombia, Ospina produced endless stunning performances to firmly establish himself on the radar of some of Europe’s top clubs.
However, Arsenal were first to make a move for the 25-year-old, and manager Arsene Wenger revealed via the club’s official website that he’s thrilled to have signed the former Nice star:
“David Ospina is an excellent goalkeeper, with good experience and a proven record of performing with Nice and Colombia. He will add strength to our squad and we are very pleased that he will be joining us."
Wenger has every reason to be pleased, too, as Ospina has all the credentials of a first-rate goalkeeper approaching his prime.
The future of goalkeeping seems to be all about being a sweeper ‘keeper, as demonstrated perfectly by German sensation Manuel Neuer, and Ospina is exactly that.
With Nice being Ligue 1 relegation candidates last term, the 25-year-old was kept busy throughout the campaign, and his defensive instincts were well and truly needed when his back line was breached.
Unlike Szczesny, Ospina’s instincts coming out of goal are flawless, and his ability on the goal line isn’t bad, either.
As WhoScored.com revealed, the Colombian’s save success last season was up there with the very best in Europe, stopping 80.2 per cent of shots fired at him in the Nice goal:
David Ospina: Only 2 goalkeepers had a better save success in Europe's top 5 leagues last season than Ospina (80.2%) (10+ apps) #AFC— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 27, 2014
Bearing in mind just how many shots were coming at him every game, that’s an impressive return, and while he’ll likely have a lot less to do for Arsenal, his natural ability means that he’ll be able to produce his best when called upon.
Though Szczesny’s performances have improved drastically over the past few years, there’s just a little something missing.
He's a great stopper with a lot of physical presence in the area, but the 24-year-old still remains Arsenal’s weak link. When teams are bearing down on the Gunners’ goal, panic ensues for fans.
For good reason, too, as Szczesny is prone to concede a goal or two, as Sky Sports Football revealed when comparing the Polish international with Ospina:
Even with one of the most formidable defences in the world in front of him, Szczesny picked the ball out of his net 41 times last season, an average of 1.11 per game.
Meanwhile, Ospina’s record with far from an expert defence protecting him stood at 0.86 goals conceded per game.
Arsenal would clearly welcome Ospina bringing his stubborn record with him to the Emirates Stadium, and if he does, then he’ll make himself as indispensable to the Gunners’ cause as he was to Nice’s—per Squawka Football:
Nice picked up 1.39 points per game when David Ospina played last season, compared to 0 points per game without him. pic.twitter.com/NOP5FvzgdE— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 27, 2014
While several fans will believe that Ospina has been brought in to be Szczesny’s backup and a Capital One Cup starter, Wenger recently said that if the Colombian proves himself worthy of the No. 1 shirt, then he’ll get it—as Joe Short of the Express reported:
Should David Ospina be Arsenal's first-choice goalkeeper?
"At the start Szczesny will be the No. 1, then we’ll be down to performances and, if Ospina shows that he is better, he will play."
He’ll certainly be doing everything to prove that he’s better than Szczesny, who will have heaps of pressure on his shoulders in the opening weeks of the season.
If the Pole makes a single slip-up, it could clear the way for Ospina, and you can guarantee that he won’t be surrendering a starting berth once he gets his safe hands on it.