Four Golden Glove Awards is not easily achieved.
It is the watermark of a fabulous career and of the highest talent.
Petr Cech has amassed every trophy at club level that a player can grab. He is recognised as one of the finest goalkeepers to have graced the Premiership since it began. He has been a flagbearer of consistency for over a decade.
His move across London to Arsenal saw this continue, but a dip in form this season has fired off alarm bells. Cech has dipped before, but it has never lasted for such a long period of time. This season so far has seen the bar which he raised so high himself, loom high above him. He has not been able to replicate what has been the norm for so long.
The standards that he set at Chelsea – and last season with us – when compared to what he has given us this season, is startlingly different.
For over a decade, Cech was the foundation on which Chelsea began their assault on the Premier League – and then Europe. When any of his teammates dipped in form, there was always a capable understudy waiting in the wings to usurp them in the lineup.
His longevity at Chelsea as their undisputed Number One spells out his supremacy between the sticks. If he did not maintain his levels of excellence, then he would have been unable to record his amount of appearances – and his haul of clean sheets.
Upon joining last season, he became the first goalkeeper to win the Golden Glove award with two different clubs. This was with a defence in front of him which was lambasted by pundits and experts alike.
This season though, there is a contrast in Cech’s performances. Gone is the commanding presence in the box. No longer is he the ever-present reliability which eases defender’s minds. Also, he has been beaten on more than one occasion at his near post by questionable efforts.
He has faced many penalties this season too – and his lackadaisical effort to stop the spot-kicks have been laughable. It appears to many that he is far too slow to get down to the turf, that his height is finally playing against him rather than for him.
Is it age? Cech is 34, and goalkeepers at this age have more than a few years left at their peak at this age, as opposed to outfielders who by this age are approaching their twilight years.
Plus, Cech has put in sporadic displays this season which have shown us he is still capable of his masterful ways.
So this points us to a dip in form. When players drop their levels and are struggling for purchase, it is conventionally about ten to twelve games that sees them return to their best.
Cech has been underperforming from the start of the season. His regular comments in the media reverberate with leadership qualities, of words of a winner. His actions on the pitch echo the actions of a man who needs a reminder that he is not undroppable.
His understudy, David Ospina, has been performing minor miracles in his role as Cup Keeper. The South American cannot do any more to put pressure on Arsene Wenger to give him a shot as Number One. With Wojicech Szczesny also lighting up Serie A with Roma – Cech should see this as a warning that his form will not do.
Instead, he continues to underwhelm. For a man with such high expectations after a career of glittering moments, Cech is shaming his own record.
What really underlines Cech’s fall from grace is how his teammates are doing. These players who are capable of brilliant things, are suffering from a lack of consistency which has hampered our campaign this season. Complacency has set in with a few Gunners, and it has seen them put in some shifts which have given opponents a weakness which they can exploit.
Complacency is a asickness that can only be treated with a harsh reminder of their own mortality. Cech needs a spell on the bench to implant the notion that this is not good enough.
Cech is far from finished – but he is letting the side down and himself – which for a habitual winner, is not acceptable.