How Cech could make Arsenal champions for years to come
Keeper deal strengthens the Gunners, weakens their opponents and could have a long-term impact at the Emirates
If, as expected, Arsenal secure the signing of Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech next week for a fee of around £11m it could transform next season's title race, and the Gunners' long-term prospects.
Chelsea captain John Terry, who is losing a long-standing team-mate, believes Cech will be worth 12 to 15 points to the Gunners next season. And considering that Arsenal finished 12 points adrift of the Blues last term, that is highly significant.
"This is a proper signing by Wenger," writes Jim White of Eurosport. "If part of the purpose of entering the transfer market is to weaken opponents as much as strengthen yourself, then the Arsenal boss has achieved a rare double here. Cech is a proper goalkeeper: athletic, strong, experienced. The fact is Arsenal have not had one of those since David Seaman.
"[But] you only had to study the expression on Jose Mourinho's face to appreciate the damage his removal from the Bridge has done."
The deal has been done against Mourinho's will. It was sanctioned by the Chelsea board, by way of a thankyou to Cech after 11 years of solid service.
"How very warm-hearted of them," says Dave Kidd of the Daily Mirror. But he adds that the move is "anathema" to Mourinho, who knows full well how the deal will benefit the Gunners. "Mourinho usually is right. And he has made it clear he believes selling Cech to Arsenal is a big mistake," adds Kidd.
The furore over Cech at least addresses the historical indifference to keepers, says Rob Bagchi of the Daily Telegraph. "The entrenched lack of recognition for [goalkeepers] in England, once such fertile ground for breeding masters of the craft, is scandalous," he says.
"They cannot turn poor teams into good ones on a consistent basis, but can transform average ones into decent sides and the good into the very good."
And Cech's arrival will not just benefit Arsenal in the short term, believes Andrew Mangan of ESPN, who says the deal will benefit Wojciech Szczesny, whose career appears to have stalled.
Cech is likely to bring his "long-time coach and mentor" Christophe Lollichon with him from Chelsea, and Arsenal recently allowed one of the goalkeeping coaches to leave, so there is a space on the team for him.
Szczesny has "never had an experienced, quality goalkeeper to work with", having spent almost all his Arsenal career with the likes of Lukasz Fabianski and Manuel Almunia for company.
"What might it do for him to train with Cech? To study his methods and preparation, and to learn from a man who has won it all at club level already. It's impossible not to think it would be hugely beneficial to him, and to Arsenal."