Wenger hails ‘world-class’ Ospina after PSG draw

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

ARSE­NAL man­ager Arsene Wenger de­scribed David Ospina as “world-class” after the Colom­bian goal­keeper jus­ti­fied his se­lec­tion in yes­ter­day’s Cham­pi­ons League draw with Paris Saint-Ger­main with sev­eral de­ci­sive saves.

Ospina was beaten by Edin­son Ca­vani’s header in­side the open­ing minute at the Parc des Princes but foiled the French cham­pi­ons on sev­eral other oc­ca­sions as Alexis Sanchez’s late lev­eller en­sured a 1-1 draw in the Group A opener.

And Ospina’s per­for­mance si­lenced the doubters who ques­tioned why Wenger had cho­sen to play him in Paris rather than reg­u­lar No. 1 Petr Cech, who was left on the bench.

“I have two world-class goal­keep­ers and I know we have enough matches to give both of them games. If you can­not play them you can­not keep world-class goal­keep­ers who don’t get games,” in­sisted Wenger.

Arse­nal’s wob­ble in the Cham­pi­ons League at the start of last sea­son, with sur­prise de­feats to both Di­namo Za­greb and Olympiakos that al­most con­demned them to an early exit, was partly at­trib­uted to Wenger’s de­ci­sion to play Ospina in goal.

The for­mer Nice cus­to­dian made one calami­tous er­ror in par­tic­u­lar that gifted a goal to the Greeks, but against PSG he res­cued the Lon­don club with nu­mer­ous in­ter­ven­tions to deny Ca­vani and An­gel Di Maria.

“When he played in the Cham­pi­ons League last sea­son he made an er­ror and ev­ery­one came down on him, but he has put things right,” said Wenger

The ques­tion now is, will Ospina keep his place for Arse­nal’s next Group A game at home to Swiss side Basel in two weeks, and Wenger hinted that he will.

“We have rules that the ‘keep­ers know. That’s why it is im­por­tant to have clear rules from the start, and when that changes I in­form them,” said the French­man.

“We can al­ways change our minds. It’s down to per­for­mances and on what he has de­liv­ered tonight he has the right to claim to play in the next Cham­pi­ons League game.”

It was far from a vin­tage Arse­nal per­for­mance but the draw in what was on paper their trick­i­est fix­ture leaves them well placed to win their group, some­thing they have not done in the Cham­pi­ons League in five years.

“PSG were good. They were de­ter­mined, ag­gres­sive, quick on the break, and ap­plied very strong phys­i­cal pres­sure,” added Wenger.

“But even in the first half when we put to­gether a few passes we felt we could be dan­ger­ous. We cre­ated chances in the sec­ond half and it is a good point for us.”

From a PSG per­spec­tive, their in­abil­ity to see out the vic­tory was less to do with Ospina than with Ca­vani’s in­abil­ity to con­vert sev­eral chances to add to his opener.

The Uruguayan had two spec­tac­u­lar misses in the first half be­fore be­ing de­nied by the Arse­nal ‘keeper in the sec­ond half, and Unai Emery’s side have now gone three games with­out a win.

“I am not happy with the re­sult but I am happy with how we played. We need to play like this in fu­ture,” in­sisted the Spa­niard Emery, who re­fused to be critical of Ca­vani.

“The most im­por­tant thing is that he is cre­at­ing chances for him­self. That is pos­i­tive for the fu­ture.” – AFP

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