Football: Chelsea may rue letting Cech go

Arsenal's Petr Cech.
Arsenal's Petr Cech. PHOTO: EPA

LONDON • On a week when Petr Cech's gloves were wrongly sent to Chelsea by his sponsors, the champions could potentially witness the repercussions of letting the goalkeeper go to Arsenal.

Cech shut out his former side in his debut for the Gunners in the Community Shield - Arsenal winning over Chelsea - following his £10 million (S$20.4 million) summer move.

A similar result in the Premier League tomorrow at the Emirates will inflict further damage on what has been a difficult campaign for Chelsea, while boosting Arsenal's title hopes.

So far, Cech - relegated to back-up stopper at Stamford Bridge last season - has done enough to suggest that the Blues would have been better off with the Czech in the side.

According to Opta statistics, the 33-year-old has outperformed both of Chelsea's goalkeepers - Thibaut Courtois and Asmir Begovic - up to this point.

SAFE HANDS SAVE POINTS

I said from the start that he will give Arsenal points in the title race. That is what he has done and he will continue to do so.

''JOHN TERRY, Chelsea captain, on how good a goalkeeper Petr Cech is.

Cech has kept 10 clean sheets in 22 league games. Courtois, who missed about three months of action through injury, and Begovic have combined for six.

Cech has also averaged more saves a game (3.43) than the duo (2).

In addition, Arsenal have conceded fewer goals - 21 - compared to their London rivals' 34.

Blues skipper John Terry, who predicted in the off-season that Cech would be worth 12 to 15 points for Arsenal this term, is not surprised.

"Petr has shown this season that he is still one of the best in the world let alone in the Premier League," he told the London Evening Standard.

"I said from the start that he will give Arsenal points in the title race. That is what he has done and he will continue to do so."

Cech won 13 major honours in 11 years alongside Terry. But Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said that he feels like Cech has never played for Chelsea.

"I consider him now as a real Arsenal player who looks to me as if he's been here forever because he has adapted so well and integrated to team spirit," said the Frenchman.

Cech's sponsor adidas will probably disagree, although what will matter most to the Gunners is whether those safe hands will soon be lifting silverware aloft.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2016, with the headline 'Chelsea may rue letting Cech go'. Print Edition | Subscribe