After months of speculation, Arsenal finally announced they had completed the signing of Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech. This was far from surprising as the signing has been “all but done” for weeks. After 11 years in West London, the Czech international is moving to the Emirates on a four year contract.
Cech isn’t a huge loss for Chelsea. The only reason he left Stamford Bridge was because he had been displaced and been relegated to the bench by Thibaut Courtois. While he is no longer the number one, with him gone they’ll need a new number two. With the departure of Cech, young Jamaal Blackman is the Blues’ number two goalkeeper. While he is supposed to have a bright future, Blackman is simple not ready to deputize for Courtois. The number two goalkeeper is an important position in the modern game. Not only is the number two there to cover for any injuries or suspensions, but many managers have been playing their number two in the domestic cups. With Blackman too raw for this, they’ll need to go into the market and grab themselves a new back up keeper.
The two names that have been linked to Chelsea in their hunt for a back up goalkeeper have been Robert Green and Asmir Begovic. There are reports that a deal for Begovic has already been completed and that he could be a Chelsea player sooner rather than later.
Green has been rumored to be moving to Stamford Bridge to replace the outgoing Cech for months now. The question is who should Jose Mournho bring in?
Goalkeeping stats are usually not something to draw conclusions from. They are hardly conclusive since there is no metric to account for difficulty of save, distance of shot, or a way to account for some teams’ goalkeepers having to do more work than others, but they can indicate some characteristics of goalkeepers. One key thing for Chelsea is having a keeper that is comfortable with the ball at their feet. Green’s distribution was notably poor last season, completing only 49% of his passes. Begovic on the other hand was quite good completing 67% of his passes last season, fourth best on the league among keepers that played more than 10 games, and 65% the season before.
With the Chelsea defence used to defend Thibaut Courtois and Petr Cech, Jose Mourinho will want someone that commands the penalty area well. Green made more punches and more catches than the Bosnian goalkeeper did last season, despite being two inches shorter. Begovic did have a slightly higher success rate when it came to claiming balls though, claiming 100% as opposed to Green’s 97%.
The most important area for goalkeepers though is to not make mistakes. Begovic didn’t exactly cover himself in glory last season, making five defensive errors, seventh most among goalkeepers, with four of them leading to goals. Yet, Green is still worse making seven errors with six leading to goals, both Premier League highs.
One other thing that aids Begovic is that, despite being a Bosnian international and being raised in Canada, he counts as a homegrown player. He has been in England since age sixteen, so he would go toward Chelsea’s Premier League home grown quota. Begovic does seem like the better goalkeeper, but it will likely come down his wages, transfer fee and desire to be a number one goalkeeper. If any of those prove to be stumbling blocks, Rob Green could still find his way to Stamford Bridge this summer.