After 15 failed attempts, Petr Cech finally saved a penalty in Arsenal colours and just for good measure it helped him reach 200 Premier League clean sheets as the Gunners ran out 3-0 winners against Watford at the Emirates.
The 35-year-old stopped Troy Deeney’s spot-kick on 62 minutes, his first Premier League penalty save since February 2011 for Chelsea against Fulham, as he ended an 11 game run without a clean sheet – the longest of his career.
Arsene Wenger was quick to praise the achievement, while also hinting that the impending milestone may have been playing on Cech’s mind for the last few months.
“Petr Cech shows a little bit how quickly things change in football,” he said. “He was in hell last week and in heaven today. But, I would like to personally congratulate him for a remarkable achievement.
“I have a huge respect for consistency. It shows a huge level of motivation and intelligence, and he shows plenty of that.
“It [the milestone] did [play on his mind]. I am convinced. They all say no, but we know all – it’s not true.”
Cech first had the chance to reach the 200 clean sheet mark when Liverpool visited the Emirates just before the Emirates just before Christmas. He’s endured a tough time since and is obviously relieved to finally reach the target.
“It’s been a while and I have to say that it’s never happened that I’ve had to wait 11 games for a clean sheet,” he told Arsenal.com.
“In the stretch it was quite frustrating at times. We had so many games where we had a big result, especially at home when you take the games against Everton and Crystal Palace. In the end, you are 4-0 up and we conceded late goals.
“Sometimes you go through stretches like that as a team, as an individual and obviously you have to find your way out. We had a massive game in Milan and we managed to win there with a clean sheet.
“Today, I thought we carried that with us. It was not as easy a game as the score says, because we scored in important moments, they missed a penalty and they had a couple of chances in the first half. So we had to defend properly until the last second and we did so.”
He added: “I always say when you go through a difficult period, the last thing you change is your work, your attitude and your precision in the every day work that you do. So I kept working and I kept working.
“I know how I managed to get this far, so I carried on my work and I thought that one day it would turn back. Today it was an important save, so the question of is it a penalty here or there and will he save one? Well, today I did. So we can carry on.”