Confidence in football is a powerful thing. Football is a team game, but goalkeepers, in particular, bear their burden between the sticks alone and have nowhere to hide. The spotlight is on them every game and one mistake is all it takes for the fans and the press to turn.
When keepers make a string of mistakes, the pressure makes them try so hard not to make another one, that they put too much thought into actions that once came naturally. This usually results in even more mistakes.
The defence suffers, the pressure rises and the opposition smell blood. A keeper low on confidence is an accident waiting to happen in the Premier League. Only recently we’ve seen top keepers likes of Joe Hart, Asmir Begovic and Simon Mignolet dropped or under the microscope each game.
All credit to Petr Cech for bouncing back so quickly and decisively. I’ve always been a supporter of his signing and it was frustrating that he was being criticised in some quarters after his early performances – particularly after lifting the Charity Shield and Emirates Cup in pre-season.
With a clean sheet against Newcastle and a superb performance against Liverpool, he has very quickly nipped the scrutiny in the bud, to show steel and make it clear he is a man who believes in his ability. If he had made any more errors or had another poor performance, the pressure would have been on him and the team. Instead he took responsibility, apologised and made everyone remember how good he is against Liverpool.
These are the kind of players we need at Arsenal. The mentality of a champion who realises the difference between confidence and ability. Cech is a big player player with points to prove: that he is still one of the best in the world and that form is temporary – class is permanent.