Getty Images

Petr Cech to retire at end of season

Leave a comment

Legendary goalkeeper Petr Cech has announced he will retire at the end of the 2018-19 season.

The current Arsenal stopper, 36, is one of the most successful goalkeepers in Premier League history as he has won trophies at Arsenal and Chelsea during his 15-year career in England’s top-flight.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Cech has the most clean sheets in PL history, holds the record for the must shutouts in a single season (24 in 2004-05) and made 494 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions.

He also won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, a UEFA Champions League trophy, a Europa League title and two Community Shields during his 11-year stay at Chelsea. Cech has also won an FA Cup and Community Shield during his four seasons at Arsenal.

Cech is the only goalkeeper in Premier League history to win the PL’s Golden Glove with two different clubs, while he was also the quickest to reach 100 clean sheets (180 games). He is also the most capped player for the Czech Republic national team with 124 outings, a huge chunk of them as captain.

He announced Tuesday that he will call time on his career at the end of the current campaign and posted the following statement.

His status as a legend of the game is secured, even if he has lost his place as a regular starter for Arsenal this season following Bernd Leno‘s arrival in the summer.

Cech arrived at Chelsea in 2004 from French side Rennes and was an immediate star for Jose Mourinho’s all-conquering Chelsea.

He has also had some tough times to get through in England, as he fractured his skull in a game against Reading in 2006 and has worn a protective helmet ever since.

Cech also lost his place at Chelsea to Thibaut Courtois in 2014 and then moved to Arsenal in the summer of 2015, even though it became clear he would have rather seen his playing days out at Stamford Bridge.

In his spare time he plays the drums, while he can also speak Czech, English, Spanish, French and German.

It is safe to say Cech is one of the greatest goalkeepers the world has ever seen and we will see him stay in the game in some capacity for many years to come.

Emery shoots down Keylor Navas rumor

Getty Images
Leave a comment

There has been lots of talk regarding Arsenal’s potential interest in Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas in the last few weeks, with the Costa Rican obviously unhappy at being replaced by Thibaut Courtois.

Madrid brought the Belgian in this summer, relegating Navas to the bench. With Navas still regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, it naturally brought about speculation regarding his potential move away from the Bernebeu. Many believed Arsenal to be a great fit, with Petr Cech benched by Unai Emery and Bernd Leno not exactly lighting up the stat sheet.

Emery brought an end to that speculation on Thursday, leaving nothing to the imagination when asked about the speculation at his pre-match press conference ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup match against Blackpool.

“Not true,” Emery said defiantly. “We never speak about one goalkeeper because I think – and it’s true – we are very happy with the three goalkeepers we have now. We’ve never spoken about Keylor Navas.”

Emery mentions his “three goalkeepers” suggesting that even third-stringer Emiliano Martinez’s position is safe at the moment.

Leno took over for Cech in late September after Cech went down with a hamstring injury, and the German never relinquished his position between the sticks. Cech missed two matches but has returned only to a spot on the bench. Still, Arsenal has conceded 31 goals this season, far more than any of the four teams above them in the Premier League table. Much of that can be explained by the defensive struggles the team has been forced to navigate, but the goalkeepers should also naturally share some of that blame.

Still, it appears that Navas will have to find another club to rescue him from the Real Madrid bench, with Arsenal all but out of the running.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Arsenal interest in Navas; Drinkwater to leave?

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Unai Emery is reportedly in the market for more than just a centerback in January.

According to El Confidencial in Spain, Emery is interested in signing Real Madrid goalkeeper Kaylor Navas. The veteran Costa Rica international starred for Real Madrid in their three UEFA Champions League titles in as many years and yet, he’s found himself second-choice this season behind former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The report states that Real Madrid would let Navas leave for around $16 million, a bargain considering his experience and talent. The report then goes on to say Real Madrid would invest that money in signing Brahim Diaz, a reserve at Manchester City who hasn’t made it into Pep Guardiola‘s first team plans.

The idea of signing Navas for Arsenal is a bit of a head-scratcher. While he’s clearly a talented goalkeeper, it would be surprising for Emery to have moved on from two international-caliber goalkeepers in the span of six months. Petr Cech started the season but after a few errors, Bernd Leno, signed last June from Bayer Leverkusen took over. Leno has had some mistakes in the past few games, but most managers would back their goalkeepers to overcome the errors.

If the reports are true, Emery apparently believes he needs a fresh pair of hands in net.

Here are some more transfer stories around the Premier League:

(more…)

Real Madrid suffers worst home Champions League loss

AP Photo/Paul White
Leave a comment

Real Madrid rested several big name players for Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League visit from CSKA Moscow, having already acquired a spot in the Round of 16.

You could very much tell, as Real suffered its heaviest home loss in UCL history.

[ MORE: PL Manager Power Rankings ]

The three-time reigning champions were waxed 3-0 at the Bernabeu, giving the home crowd little to cheer.

Thibaut Courtois allowed all three goals, and probably won’t appreciate his work on at least two of the three.

Federico Valverde, Jesus Vallejo, Vinicius Junior, and Javier Sanchez got starts despite having a total of 22 appearances this season, with Toni Kroos, Dani Carvajal, and Gareth Bale coming off the bench and both Raphael Varane and Luka Modric unused subs.

Georgi Schennikov, Arnor Sigurdsson, and Fedor Chalov scored for CSKA, leaving Real manager Santiago Solari disappointed in his depth players and stars alike.

La Liga: Bale scores as Real Madrid get by tiny Huesca

AP Photo/Andrea Comas
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Gareth Bale scored early in the first half and Real Madrid held on for a harder-than-expected 1-0 win at last-placed Huesca on Sunday to move closer to the top of the Spanish league.

Bale found the net in the eighth minute and Madrid withstood pressure from the league newcomer to move to fourth in the standings after 15 matches, behind Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and leader Barcelona.

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid won their games on Saturday, while Sevilla was held by Valencia to a draw.

The match in Huesca happened only a few hours before fierce Argentine rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors played in Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in the final of the Copa Libertadores, South America’s equivalent of the Champions League. The second leg of the final was moved to the Spanish capital after the match in Argentina was marred by fan violence.

Madrid struggled against a Huesca team that hasn’t won in 16 straight matches. Huesca has only won once in the league this season – in the first round at Eibar.

Huesca is making its first-division debut and had never played against Real Madrid.

Santiago Solari’s team needed a solid performance by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to hold on to the win, the team’s fourth consecutive victory in all competitions after a humiliating 3-0 defeat at Eibar in the league.

“We couldn’t do much in the second half,” Courtois said. “We know we have to improve, but it’s difficult to play these types of matches.”

Courtois and other Madrid players said strong winds in the second half made it harder for the team to control the game.

Marco Asensio and Isco, who had led the team to a 6-1 rout of third-division club Melilla in the Copa del Rey on Thursday, entered Sunday’s match in the second half but made no significant contribution.

Bale scored with a neat volley from inside the area, side-footing a cross by Alvaro Odriozola.

The Wales forward, jeered by some fans in the team’s league win against Valencia last weekend, hadn’t scored in 10 league matches.

Real Madrid was ninth in the standings after losing 5-1 at Barcelona in a match that led to the firing of coach Julen Lopetegui.