Time to kick off a little roster evaluation series as we head down the stretch of the 2016-17 season for Arsenal. In doing so, we’ll be looking at who’s in the first team, who’s out on loan, any notable names from the Reserves and how badly the position could use some sort of reinforcement in the upcoming transfer window in the summer (irrespective of who Arsenal’s manager is come June 10...).
We’re starting things off at the back with the goalkeepers.
As far as the Arsenal depth chart goes, this position is far and away the most set in stone.
Has that changed? Probably not.
Here’s how things look overall right now.
The 34-year old Czech has held the top spot since signing with Arsenal in June 2015 after 11 years at Chelsea. Arsenal Manager Arsène Wenger has employed a familiar strategy this season at goalkeeper as Cech has started every game for Arsenal in Premier League contests while remaining an unused substitute in Champions League competition and being left out of FA Cup and League Cup action.
Čech has been adequate overall if not above so with eight clean sheets this season. I think it’s fair enough to say that if I were looking for a reason Arsenal are where they are in the league table and in major tournament performance, I’d point elsewhere on the roster...which is a compliment to Čech.
The real issue here is one of longevity. While he’s signed through 2019, he’s certainly looking at the end of his career creeping over the horizon.
Then again, Gianluigi Buffon is going to play until he is 74 so maybe Čech will remain serviceable beyond the Lil Bow Wow presidency of 2028.
I’ll give him this. David Ospina has commanded attention since signing in 2014. Not sure that’s a good thing, though.
Now 28-years old, the Columbian is in the final year of his contract. Is he set to exit on a free transfer? I’m not sure that would upset a large set of Arsenal supporters.
The young Argentinian finally stuck around London after being loaned out every season since being called up in 2012 out of the youth system.
Arsenal’s 0-2 loss in the League Cup to Southampton last November ended his three-game starting run in the cup and thus his easiest avenue to playing time this year. He’s been an unused substitute throughout the FA Cup; I doubt he features with Ospina manning the posts heading into the final eight in the Sixth Round Proper.
The question is if he’s in the club’s long-term plans, which certainly will depend on the managerial situation in the summer.
Forever the shower-smoker in my heart.
Szcz is on loan to Roma for the second successive season as their current first-choice keeper. He’s doing a fine job with 11 clean sheets in 25 games for the Giallorossi keeping them in second place as it stands.
He’s still just 26-years old, so there’s plenty of football left in those legs. The question of whether he’ll re-join Arsenal remains outstanding.
Macey was the unused substitute in Arsenal’s three League Cup matches this year. Last month, he was loaned out to League Two’s Luton Town for the remainder of the 2016-17 season.
Macey has started for Luton Town in their last four matches in all competitions as they sit in fourth place in the table right now. The 6’6”, 22-year old has one season left on his Arsenal contract, so we’ll have to see if he factors in next season.
Likelihood of signing: 4/10
With the uncertainty surrounding who is manning the sidelines as the Arsenal manager for 2017/18, it throws some of these projections off substantially.
Nevertheless, the chance that Ospina exits stands as the major factor here. I’m not sure Szczęsny is a viable option as a backup; I’d have to think he would not handle the lack of starting opportunities well.
I suppose the question is if Martínez will look ready for the opportunity to serve as the second option for the first team. If not, an Ospina-like signing probably looms.
When we circle back to this series later in the spring, perhaps we’ll have some rumors or legitimate options to identify.
As it stands, Arsenal have bigger starting lineup issues to address than Čech, and the depth post-Ospina can be sorted out without major consternation.
In short, Arsenal have bigger fish to fry.
Next up: Centerbacks. That should be...fun...