Wenger claims Ospina is ‘world-class’

Sarah Winterburn

Arsene Wenger has backed David Ospina to one day replace Petr Cech as Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper.

The 27-year-old has not featured for the Gunners since making a costly mistake in the 3-2 Champions League defeat to Olympiacos in September.

That loss left Arsenal’s hopes of getting into the latter stages of the competition hanging in the balance and saw Cech installed as the undisputed number one across both the Champions League and Barclays Premier League.

The former Chelsea stopper has since gone on to break the Premier League clean sheet record and has drawn plenty of plaudits for his form as Arsenal squeezed through in Europe while moving clear at the top of the league.

But Wenger is ready to bring Ospina back in from the cold after confirming the Colombia international will start Saturday’s FA Cup third-round clash with Sunderland.

“I think he can be the goalkeeper of the future here as well,” the Arsenal boss said of Ospina.

“With Petr Cech getting older year after year, he may get more games as well…I believe that Ospina is not treated fairly. If you look at the whole of 2015, everybody neglects he played six months.

“I personally think he is world-class. I did not take Petr Cech based on the performances of Ospina. Petr Cech was just an exceptional opportunity where it was difficult to say no. It was not because I was unhappy with Ospina.

“I was very happy with Ospina. It was just an opportunity to say no would not have been right. Unfortunately, Ospina has been punished by that decision. I rate him highly.

“True he had a bad season because he has that mistake (against Olympiacos) and when you do not have many opportunities and you have one bad catch, everyone is after you.”

Arsenal are looking to retain the FA Cup and lift the trophy for a third season in succession but it was Wojciech Szczesny who kept goal in the 4-0 win over Aston Villa in May as Ospina was preferred in the league campaign.

This season, with Szczesny now on loan at Roma and Cech firmly established as first-choice, Ospina’s chances are likely to be limited to the FA Cup – something Wenger admits is a difficult decision.

“My job is to make decisions and selections,” he added.

“That of course is not always very popular but at the end of the day you just want to make the right decision, knowing that sometimes it is a 50/50.

“I can give you the last example. I did not play Laurent Koscielny against Bournemouth, Gabriel comes in and scores, he nearly scores two goals.

“Against Newcastle, I decide to play Koscielny – which is unfair towards Gabriel – Koscielny comes in, scores and we win 1-0.

“Who can predict that? The first decision was unfair and at the end of the day the decision was right because Koscielny scored but even me, 30 years in the job, I didn’t know that before the game.

“When you have two good players you have always a chance to make the right decision.”