The 2015/16 season is just about to start in earnest – with the curtain raiser at Wembley between Chelsea and Arsenal competing for the Community Shield this afternoon. With Mourinho hogging all the headlines for his latest rant at Wenger, you may be forgiven for thinking that this match is important only for him.
One more player who would feel the importance of every minute on Sunday would be Petr Cech. The former Blues keeper joined Arsenal early this transfer window in a deal that many thought would be the game changer for the North London club. For years, this has been a problem position for Wenger. Cech brings with him experience of winning 13 major trophies spanning 11 years at the Stamford Bridge.
Wenger will be happy that he has Cech on his books at the third time of asking. He tried to sign the youngster from Rennes in 2004. Then, in 2013, there was an enquiry to his status when Thibaut Courtois was heading back to Chelsea. He was knocked back both the times.
This time, Wenger sealed the deal. The icing on the cake was the inability of his arch nemesis Jose Mourinho to prevent it. Cech enjoys a great rapport with the Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. Mourinho wanted to sell Cech abroad – so that Wenger doesn’t get him. Abramovich was far more cordial and believed that Cech earned the right to decide his next move after so many years of service.
With Courtois already making the goalkeeper position his own at Chelsea, Cech did not want another season on the bench. For all his talent and experience, it certainly is not the right place to ply his trade. Now it is revealed that Wenger is the real reason that Cech decided to become a Gunner.
It’s also true that staying in London suited Cech and his family. But, that is not the primary reason for joining Arsenal. A conversation with Le Prof sealed the deal. He then moved on to showcase his talents on the training ground.
Cech said: ‘It will be an unknown feeling for me to play against Chelsea. Once I am on the pitch there is no other option — I want to win.
‘The only concern I have is whether I can win the game for Arsenal. That’s the way it goes and obviously I have a huge connection with Chelsea football club from the 11 years I spent with the club. But for those 90 minutes or 120 minutes — however long it takes to play the game — there are no friends.’
There is no doubt that Cech is a world-class keeper and still has some years of service left in his body. Spending almost the entire last season on the bench should have done wonders to his fitness because he can prolong his career now.
All it remains to be seen is if he can bring his clean sheet record to the Emirates. His obsession with keeping clean sheets is well known for the Blues. If he can replicate that at Arsenal, Wenger can finally smile against Mourinho.