Petr Cech left Chelsea for Arsenal under acrimonious circumstances after falling down the pecking order to the ever brilliant Courtois but what followed was one of the most surprising transfer which could’ve ever happened with him leaving for the Gunners who had a limp season, winning the FA Cup and the “Third Place Trophy” which Wenger often gloated about. Considering Courtois was in the ranks, it all made sense from a need point of view for Chelsea as well as Arsenal who had never had a proper goalkeeper since Lehmann.
But in reality, we saw a leader, a legend leave Chelsea for their bitter rivals, in the same city, who were expected to challenge for the very same goals over the next season. Mourinho was understandably furious but Abramovic was doing the right thing by fulfilling a final wish of a legend, an immaculate servant at Chelsea for the past decade. Big Pete left for Arsenal but it didn’t turn out as it was expected for both the parties.
This transfer was of such a magnitude that Chelsea skipper, Terry, lamented the fact that Cech was gone. He hailed Arsenal for an impressive signing and was also slightly taken aback by the fact that this was the second Chelsea legend to turn up in rivals’ colours in consecutive seasons. Lampard had done the same with the Sky Blues and it was now Cech’s turn to make the Pensioners stand up and applaud him in the strange colours from North of the city instead of the usual green or yellow he so proudly adorned with a Chelsea badge he flaunted with pride. Terry admitted that Cech will save Arsenal “12-15 points a season”. A classy judgement from the Leader even as he might have had the slightest of inkling to shout traitor.
For Arsenal, it was a disappointing window, even after the acquisition of probably the most important player they have over the last couple of years if not the last decade. Meanwhile Chelsea signed Begovic, a great keeper, as a backup. Something he was too good to be infact. While both the London clubs started the season with a whimper, Chelsea sustained that poor form while Arsenal spectacularly recovered, clawing back to the top of the table over Christmas. The Chelsea keeper, Courtois, in an ironic notion, succumbed to the very first injury of his career, a knee injury which took him away from action until mid-December.
It was right afet he was suspended for a bad tackle on Gomis after his defense left him to dry against Gomis in the opening match versus Swansea. With Gomis clean through, it was an easy Red Card decision for the ref and since then Courtois had sat out the season until finally making his long awaited recovery into December. His presence complemented the improving Chelsea performances but it didn’t end as well in terms of results as Chelsea succumbed to consecutive losses against Bournemouth and Leicester. Mourinho was gone and there was the return of Hiddink but it was clear that the number thirteen was well and truly the real number one at Chelsea.
The most ironic instance for the season occurred right the last week as Cech broke the long awaited Premier League clean sheets record while in the same game-week, Courtois registered his first clean sheet of the season against Manchester United. It was an embarrassing view for the Blues over the season as they saw cross after cross go in the goal after being met with headers or tap ins.
Watching Begovic scramble to make saves, it must remind them of the memories when Cech used to come up trumps against the most stunning of crosses or the greatest of headers. He used to simply pick the ball in the air. With Courtois out, it was painful to see Begovic hiding in the goal against strong front men like a caveman hides from the storm in his rock hole. The story of Chelsea’s season was written as soon as Courtois was injured. Chelsea have seemingly looked back right across the season, trying to make sense amid the storm. Soon they might come up with answers for it too. But one thing is certain. It all started with the loss of Petr Cech.