Petr Cech: Chelsea's pain, Arsenal's gain by Okwuanya Tochukwu-Vincent
Arsenal and Chelsea have often been cut as different forces of the game.
Arsenal often presented as the persistent but unsuccessful good, Chelsea as the big bad conqueror who can walk straight to your table at the restaurant, kiss your girl, throw his wallets at her and take her home while you cry foul and wipe your tears with your serviette.
Arsenal would be the guy asking a girl out with flowers and apples for months while Chelsea lurks in the corner, softly tapping his feet, hands in pocket and biding his time.
As soon as the romantic Arsenal leaves, the practical guy would swoop in, take her to a five star hotel and tell her that Room 25 has the best view.
Of course, she will want to see it. The next morning the flower boy will be told that he was not man enough. You get the point now.
Chelsea is the yang to Arsenal's ying, the team that does whatever is necessary to win and led by a coach who is emblematic of the club.
They will pack the bus, kick a horse or anyone standing in their way to glory.
They can also resort to hoofing it up to the big tall Ivorian who has sadly retired, and expect a moment of genius from him, in his absence, another tall Spaniard had stepped in. One thing is constant, Chelsea will find a way to win and will not lose with a smile.
Arsenal on the other hand are inclined to the aesthetics, they revel on flair and tiki-taka.
Unfortunately, this had yielded only two F.A cups titles in two years and those trophies papers over the cracks of over ten years of palpable underachievement.
Furthermore, there is no love lost between these two teams and their managers. One does get the sense that any transfer between these two teams would be steeped in acrimony because Mourinho would not sell a virus to Arsene Wenger if he could help it.
Arsene Wenger on his part is always too willing to return the favour. Their rivalry has often deteriorated to the comical with Arsene Wenger nearly bringing out the handbags during a tense premier league match and Mourinho once calling Wenger a "Voyeur".
Their history makes the recent transfer of Petr Cech to Arsenal surprising.
However true to the scripts, Mourinho has hinted that he had nothing to do with it.
If he had his way, Petr Cech will be cooling off on the bench while Thibaut Courtois concedes another howitzer from over seventy yards or at least he will ship Cech and his family to Paris or Madrid.
It took the intervention of Roman Abrahamovic, Chelsea's owner to keep Cech in London and unfortunately in Arsenal FC. It was an act which earned him the goalkeeper's gratitude in his open "goodbye" letter to Chelsea, a letter wherein he conveniently forgot to thank Chelsea's manager, Jose Mourinho, thus all but confirming soured relationship between player and manager.
Mourinho has bigger worries though, Cech's transfer might tip the balance in the inter-club rivalry between Chelsea and Arsenal and move the incentive to Arsene Wenger in their personal feud.
Mourinho and Chelsea FC have enjoyed a long period of dominance over Wenger and Arsenal so much that their fixtures often seemed like mere formalities.
In their last fifteen fixtures in all competitions, Chelsea won ten times, drawn thrice and lost just twice. In that period of domination, Chelsea had racked up four premier league trophies, four F.A cup titles, three League cup trophies, one Europa league trophy and one UEFA Champions league title.
It is significant to note that the beginning of this period of dominance coincided with the arrival of the towering goalkeeper, Petr Cech.
It is also imperative to understand that throughout this period of dominance, only two players were constant in a Chelsea football team noted for its managerial and playing personnel flux, Petr Cech and John Terry.
It was unsurprising then that it was a player who knew him professionally more than most, John Terry, was the one to point out that the departed Petr Cech will be worth fifteen points to Arsenal.
John Terry did not however state how many points Thibaut Courtois will be worth to Chelsea.
His submission was born out of experience and was evident across Manchester where David De Gea heroics kept Manchester United in the Champions league places as the season concluded.
The point is that Cech may act as the fillip needed by Arsenal to turn them from pretenders to actual title contenders.
It is also hard to imagine that goal keepers of Cech's quality will be available this summer, thus, whoever Chelsea signs will be a marked stepdown from their trusted gloves who has played for them for eleven years, won thirteen trophies and broke a lot of records including but not limited to the premier league record for the fewest number of games needed to reach a hundred clean sheets, Cech got there with 180 games, Czech's record for the longest time gone without conceding a goal after keeping a clean sheet for 903 minutes.
During the 2004-05 season, Cech went 1025 minutes without conceding a goal, a record trumped in 2009 by Manchester United's Edwin Van Der Sar.
He is also the second most capped player of all time in Czech's national team and the sixth all time appearance holder with Chelsea FC where he also the club record of 220 clean sheets.
He won the premier league golden gloves in 2004-05, 2009-10 and 2013-14.
These achievements and individual records stands him in good stead as be enters into a resurgent, star-studded Arsenal team who could do with a calm head as their last line of defence.
The gunners have been at the receiving end of criticisms for their soft underbelly, a snide reference to their defence.
The goalkeeping position which is considered as the last line of defence had often proven to be Wenger's blind spot. Jens Lehmann, Manuel Almunia, Lukasz Fabianski and Wojciech Szczesny were all costly experiments.
The Szczesny was directly responsible for eleven goals last season with his howler at Stoke a stark instance on why Petr Cech was needed. It would be hard to imagine Cech making a meal of some of the goals the polish keeper conceded.
Petr Cech will bring experience and organization to Arsenal's backline as his mere presence and credentials exude authority.
He also wields the capacity to start counter-attacks from the back with his long throws and perfect kick-outs.
This will sound good to Arsenal speedsters like Sanchez, Walcott, Bellerin, Welbeck and Chamberlain who will relish the opportunity to run at back-pedalling defenders during a counter-attack.
This would make Arsenal less tentative in their build-up play and more direct.
Arsenal has been edging closer to the Premier league crown and now find themselves in a position to deny bids, keep a hold of their best players like Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere and snatch the opposition players like they have done with Manchester United and now Chelsea.
They have won two titles in two years, names like Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and now Petr Cech are now playing their trade at the North-London club, while names like Edinson Cavani and Arturo Vidal are now linked with the club who five years ago were signing players like Andre Santos.
These are heady times.
Petr Cech's "guarantee" of fifteen points may see Arsenal and Arsene Wenger sauntering towards Chelsea's throne and demanding for their premier league crown.
For now, with the capture of Petr Cech, they have demonstrated that they know what they want and they know how to get it.
Arsenal may be 12th time lucky in their quest to capture the supreme title in England football again.
Article written by Okwuanya Tochukwu-Vincent