When the summer transfer window opens, everybody shares one opinion. One opinion so widespread, so universally believed that we rarely question it’s merits. Arsenal’s squad is not strong enough, and Arsene Wenger needs to sign players if they want to win anything, let alone stay in the top four. One position where Arsenal have been weak for years – according to pundits – is that of the keeper. Arsenal are in a desperate need of a new keeper, but Arsene Wenger decided to go with Wojciech Szczesny time and time again. And he was right.
In this article, I am going to compare Wojciech Szczesny’s stats to the stats of other top four keepers, David De Gea, Joe Hart and Petr Cech. I am going to show that Szczesny is already good enough to play for a top four side, and Arsenal should not sign a first choice keeper.
The first thing that stands out when we examine his stats is how young he is. He is only 23 years old, which is an extremely young age for a keeper. He made his debut in the Premier League on the 13th of December in 2010 against Manchester United. Since then, he played 78 Premier League matches for Arsenal. It is safe to say that in Szczesny, Arsenal have a keeper who is very young, but already experienced for his age. He played the least number of matches in the group of keepers examined as Vitor Mannone started the season as the first choice keeper and Szczesny lost his place to Lukas Fabianski briefly at the end of the season. He played 25 matches in the Premier League last season. All the other top four keepers played more than him. De Gea started 28 matches, Cech started 36 matches, and Joe Hart started all 38 of Manchester City’s Premier League matches. As Szczesny is still very young, it is understandable that he can not go for a whole season without a rest. That’s why it would have made sense for Arsenal to sign Mark Schwarzer. A very experienced keeper, who will provide competition for Szczesny for the next one or two years, but is content to sit on the bench for most of the season, but performs well when he is called into action.
Although Szczesny played only 25 matches last season, he performed consistently. He had the same average WhoScored rating (6.82) for the whole season as he had against other top four sides. Only the very experienced Petr Cech (6.92) was as consistent against other top four sides. Joe Hart did better (6.81 vs. 6.59) than his average against top four sides, while De Gea did worse (6.73 vs. 6.87).
Although Szczesny had the least number of clean sheets, he played the least number of matches as well. This translates to a clean sheet percentage of 40%. De Gea and Cech had almost the same clean sheet percentage (39%), however Joe Hart was able to deny the opposition in 47% of his matches.
Szczesny had the best distribution out of the keepers analysed. This is crucial for a team like Arsenal, who look to dominate position in most of their matches. They play the ball out of defense on the deck. It is crucial to have a keeper who can play accurate balls from deep and launch attacks with quick and accurate balls.
Keeping Szczesny as the first choice keeper would make sense from an economic point of view as well. Arsenal have been known to sell their best players for an inflated price. Szczesny’s transfermarkt value is already 14 000 000€. One better than avegrage season would attract other teams and could result in nice profit for Arsenal. But if they put him on the bench, Szczesny will leave for a cut price, and Arsenal will miss out on a lot of value.
Wojciech Szczesny is already good enough to be a top four keeper, and he is a great asset for Arsenal. It is crucial that he stays in North London and continues to play.