Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher have Gone too far in Criticizing Arsenal’s David Ospina


The ignorance of sports punditry never fails to annoy me. First it’s Thierry Henry belittling just how good Olivier Giroud is and then reconsidering his belittling and lessening his belittling, next it’s guys like Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher ripping up David Ospina because he allowed a single goal.

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The cry has been surprisingly loud for Arsenal to get a No. 1 keeper. In fact, the cry is so loud that it’s failing to notice that Arsenal have two No. 1 keepers.

Neville and Carragher are two voices involved in that cry. Their logic? “His record is good because the team are playing well and are defending well so they’re not having that much to do, but he was bought as a No 2. Very rarely do you see a No 2 goalkeeper become a No 1. If he was that good, why was he bought as a No 2? Why wasn’t he coming and being the No 1?” they somehow managed to enunciate on SkySports.

So the logic behind these two pundits claim is that goalies never get better, they are only as good as what they were bought for, and David Ospina is only good because Arsenal is playing well. No seriously, that’s their argument.

David Ospina isn’t good just because Arsenal is playing well. He’s one of the main reasons why Arsenal are playing this well. I can’t say this stat enough: David Ospina has the second most saves per goal ratio in the world. By that, I mean that he has more saves per goal than Manuel Neuer, David de Gea, Thibaut Courtois, Gianluigi Buffon, Salvatore Sirigu, Iker Casillas, and literally every other name except Claudio Bravo. But do Neville and Carragher think that Bravo is just doing well because Barcelona are doing well? No, because that would be silly.

In case you didn’t believe my stat, have a look at it another way, via this conveniently organized table (from Squawka):

[table id=47 /]

There is no other stat in the repertoire of a keeper that is more under the goal keepers control than saves per goal and David Ospina is second best. That is the only way David Ospina is a No. 2. Clean sheets, saves, goals conceded – they all have multiple contributing factors. Saves per goal does too, but it’s the most telling of the stats.

They want Petr Cech? His saves per goal from last year was 2.26. Not good enough!

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The fact that Carragher and Neville even made the point that David Ospina wasn’t good enough because he was bought as a No. 2 keeper should be an embarrassment for them and for all of SkySports. It’s an incredibly daft point. First of all, David Ospina was bought to challenge Wojciech Szczesny for the No. 1 spot. He won. He had been a consistent backstop at Nice for years and Arsene Wenger gave him a better chance.

Secondly, even if David Ospina was bought as a No. 2, which he wasn’t, what does that have to do with anything? His stats stand up to the best in the world, why should it be diminished in the least just because of the purpose behind his purchase? I knew sports punditry was bad but this just takes the cake of awful.

I thought it was a thing of the past for fans and ‘experts’ to completely lose faith in a player based on a single example. I was wrong. Arsenal seem to be victims of this more than most because they make a lot out of spending a little. Olivier Giroud is still spat upon because he isn’t flashy and he wasn’t 50 million pounds. Jack Wilshere is eaten up by the media because he’s a flop, he’s overrated, he’ll never amount to anything. Why? because he was seen with a cigarette. Remember how much the masses wanted to tar and feather Aaron Ramsey following his leg break? How do those people that begged for his dismissal feel now? They’re silent and fully in support of the Welshman. The same will happen when Wilshere kicks it into gear. Everyone that doubted will just be quiet and move on with life.

You’ll never hear a sports pundit come out and say “I was wrong.” If/when David Ospina continues to dominate next year, you won’t hear Carragher or Neville raising their hand saying “I was wrong, Ospina is great.” How do I know? Because of the mass of voices that said Olivier Giroud wasn’t good enough at the beginning of 2015, not one has come out and admitted they were wrong now that he’s putting in goals.

Without anyone to hold these ‘experts’ accountable, they’ll continue babbling absolute nonsense and convincing fans that they know what’s best for teams. Spoiler: They don’t! If they knew what’s best they wouldn’t be on television telling a whole bunch of people who can’t make a difference. There’s a reason why no manager has ever said ‘Why did I buy (insert player name)? Because that one guy on TV said he was good.’ The reason? Because managers know what they’re doing.

David Ospina has been a blessing to this team and it’s a crying shame that there are still people out there who don’t see that.

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