JUst like with Vieira and Gilberto, Arsenal fans have been waiting for a player to fill the massive hole once filled by our goalkeeping legends David Seaman and Jens Lehmann. Many have tried but none have quite managed it yet, but after a stunning start to his Arsenal career between the sticks our Colombian international David Ospina has the sort of stats that suggest he might be the one.
Arsene Wenger said the other day that our Polish international Wojciech Szczesny was still his number one, and time might see Shezzer regain his starting place from Ospina. But I think the manager said that as much to keep Ospina on his toes as he did to encourage the Pole.
Ospina himself seems to be well aware of what is expected of him at a club the size of Arsenal and he seems to be responding well to that pressure. And as he told Arsenal Player, he knows all about those two former greats who had the number one jersey for Arsenal.
Ospina said, “I always watched the Premier League when I was in Colombia because that was one of the leagues they showed on television.
“I see it as a big responsibility to come to a great club like Arsenal – it’s a dream come true. Now it’s my job to make the most of this opportunity that’s come my way, thanks to God and thanks to everyone here at the club.
“In Colombia everyone looks up to Rene Higuita. Then there were three other goalkeepers that were very important: Faryd Mondragon, Oscar Cordoba and the late Miguel Calero. They were very important to Colombian goalkeeping and achieved great things outside of the country.
“In Europe, I’ve always admired Iker Casillas. There’s Manuel Neuer now, who’s a great goalkeeper, and Buffon. You try to emulate them – they’ve won lots of titles playing for massive teams.
“There are some very good goalkeepers in the Premier League, too. There’s De Gea, Hugo Lloris, Hart – they’re great keepers who’ve proved their worth over the course of many seasons and are continuing to do so now.
“At Arsenal we have very good goalkeepers in the shape of Wojciech Szczesny and Emiliano Martinez. The Premier League has always had top-quality goalkeepers.”
It remains to be seen whether Ospina can keep up his excellent form but he does not strike me as the sort of character that will fold under pressure. And whereas Szczesny tends to get a bit over confident or loses his focus, the Colombian has shown no signs of that so far.
Of course he has a lot to live up to if he is to be put in with Seaman and Lehmann, but at 26-years old he is the same age as Seaman was when he became a Gunner before going on to make nearly 500 appearances. Lehmann was well into his 30s but still played in one shy of a double century of Arsenal games and was brilliant for us and played every game in our invincible season.
Has Ospina got what it takes to be the next great Arsenal keeper?