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Ozil Advances and Petr Cech Knocked Out of the Euros

The group stages is slowly creeping away from the Euros as teams continue to advance to the Round of 16.

The day began with Germany locking horns against Northern Ireland while Poland took on the disappointing Ukraine. Joachim Low made some changes to the team that shared the spoils with Poland as Joshua Kimmich replaced Benedickt Howedes in defense while Mario Gomez replaced Julian Draxler, moving Mario Gotze away from his false 9 position to a more favored attacking midfield role. In a game the Northern Irish were on the back foot from start to finish, Mesut Ozil turned up the style and had an awesome game by his amazing standards.

The German schemer made seven crosses, created six chances, fired four shots and he had an astonishing passing accuracy of 99 percent. Yes, 99 percent. Sadly, the German forwards unleashed their inner Girouds and missed a boat load of Ozil’s amazing chances.

In the other Group C game, Poland edged Ukraine out and sent them packing with a goal from Jakub Blaszczykowski, or Kuba, as he’s well known in his Dortmund days. Ex Gunner, Lukasz Fabianski, kept another clean sheet as the Ukrainians offered little or no threat from an attacking perspective.

There was excitement in the late night games as Spain played against Croatia with the right to be in the group’s leader as a potential clash against Italy awaited the loser. Then there was the Czech Republic vs Turkey game where the winner had a chance of qualification. As expected, my eyes were on the Croatia vs Spain game but I kept some tabs with the other match of the night.

The opening goal had Barcelona’s tika taka written all over it as David Silva and Cesc Fabregas split the Croatian defense open to allow Alvaro Morata tap the ball in for his third goal of the Championships. Morata was heavily linked with a move to North London but it has been confirmed that Real Madrid has activated their buy-back clause on the player’s contract, bringing him back to the Santiago Bernabeu for roughly 23 million quid.

Croatia turned up the style with a very impressive performance against the Spaniards and they got a well-deserved equalizer from Nikola Kalinic. It was an exquisite finish from a Perisic cut back. Late on, there was heartbreak for the Spanish side as they were hit on the break by Perisic and he finished the ball on David de Gea’s near post. For a quality of his immense quality, that was an aberration.

In the second game, Turkey sent the Czech Republic parking with goals from Burak Yilmaz and Ozan Tufan. The sad part about the goals were their shocking similarity as Petr Cech was beaten on his near post twice. This turned out to be his Kryptonite last season and it’s a concern seeing it happen in the national team as well.

Wish the Czech Republic out, he becomes the first Gunner to exit from the competition and his pre-season break starts early.


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Petr Cech Shows Why He’s Still One of the Best

Yesterday’s set of fixtures would have seen the first time two Gunners battled with each other but with Hector Bellerin watching the game from the dugout for 90 minutes, all Arsenal focus shifted to Petr Cech and Tomas Rosicky, that wore the Gunner banners in the tournament.

Given the vast gulf in quality between both sides, it was always going to be a struggle for the Czechs against the European defending champions and it required everyone wearing the white jersey to bring their A-games. However, one Czech player stood out from the crowd but he was wearing a purple outfit – Arsenal’s own Golden Glove winner, Petr Cech.

The goalie did his bit to singlehandedly keep his team in the game but in the end, the pressure was just too much, even for a keeper of his caliber. The Cech goalkeeping class was in session when he made a point blank save from Alvaro Morata in the six-yard box. many Spanish fans expected the ball at the back of the net from such a close range but Cech had other plans. The goalie was almost caught flat-footed when a Morata drilled cross deflected off Roman Hubnik’s shin but the ball crept just wide off the mark.

Cech showed his aerial dominance to punch a couple of efforts to safety but he had his resilient defense to thank when Sergio Ramos was clean on goal but some last-ditch defending kept the Spaniards at bay. Even though it looked like one-way traffic from start to finish, the Czechs had some half chances that they failed to capitalize on. There was a moment when Hubnik was left unmarked and he reacted first to Ladislav Krejci’s shot but his effort was tame to say the least. Then there was another goal line clearance Cesc Fabregas, of all people, made in his six-yard box to steer the ball to safety. THat chance had 1-0 written all over it.

In the second half, Jordi Alba found his way into the Czech box but Cech’s presence put him off, causing him to make a rookie mistake when he was one on one with the goalie. The last time I remember Jordi Alba creeping at goal was when he made mince meat of Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama in the 2013 Confederations Cup.

Cech seemed to be going home with a deserved clean sheet in the bag for his virtuoso performance but it was undone in the 87th minute when Gerard Pique headed a lovely Andres Iniesta pass to give the Spaniards a lead that broke Czech hearts.

Gerard Pique heading the winner

It was quite painful to see the Arsenal keeper concede so late but that’s what football is all about. You don’t always get what you feel you deserve.

Nonetheless, it was a stack reminder that Cech is still one of the best goalkeepers in the business and he proved his weight in gold.


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Rating Arsenal’s Goalkeepers’ Performances in the 2015/16 Season

With the season well and truly over, it’s time to look back at some of the way some members of the team performed in the course of the 2015/16 season.

Without much ado, let’s start shall we?

Petr Cech (43 Appearances, 21 Clean Sheets)

Arsenal fans will always admit that Petr Cech was a ‘steal’. The superb goalie that had served Chelsea for 11 years notching up a record 220 clean sheets in 486 appearances moved from West to North London and immediately made the goalkeeping position his for keeps. It was evident that the likes of Wojciech Szczesny, David Ospina and Emiliano Martinez were never going to contest with the legendary goalkeeper.

Cech proved his worth over the course of the season, calming the defense and making a plethora of saves including this astonishing double save against Stoke at the Britannia. In 34 Premier League games, Cech made 101 saves and kept 16 clean sheets making him a forerunner for the Golden Glove awards. If you add the three clean sheets in the Champions League, one in the FA Cup and one in the Community Shield, that took his tally to 21 for the campaign, which is certainly impressive for a goalie in his debut season with a club.

With Cech currently 33, he still has so many years ahead of him and he’s going to be a mainstay at the club for years to come.

Rating – 8/10


David Ospina (12 Appearances, Four Clean Sheets)

With Cech arriving at the club, it was evident that either Ospina or Szczesny was going to make way because it was going to be a challenge keeping all three goalies happy so the Pole was shipped out to AS Roma to get regular game time. That meant that Ospina was going to play second fiddle to Cech when he returned from his Copa America.

Due to Cech’s status as Arsenal’s No. 1 goalie, Ospina had to wait till March to make his first Premier League appearance and this was due to the fact that Cech suffered a bizarre thigh injury in the defeat to Swansea. Ospina kept two clean sheets in the four Premier League games he played. He was also the traditional ‘Cup keeper’ and featured regularly in the domestic cup competitions, but he was under the spotlight when he was selected ahead of Cech in the Champions League game against Olympiakos.

Ospina has proven that he is a dependable second choice goalie and despite his meager appearances this season, he made a good account of himself.

Rating – 7/10



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