It’s not a Premier League season without a goalkeeping controversy after one game.
This season, it’s Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech, who is coming off a rough season for the Gunners and didn’t exactly have his best performance in Arsenal’s opener, a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City where the Gunners never truly threatened Man City’s goal. Cech now has some serious competition in goal behind him, with former Bayer Leverkusen star Bernd Leno waiting in the wings. Leno is currently on the fringes of the German National Team and certainly could be a starter for Die Mannschaft.
But despite Cech’s opening-day struggles, he has the backing of manager Unai Emery.
“I am very happy with Cech’s performance – he has experience, he has quality, he has the capacity,” Emery said, via The Telegraph. “Also, with Bernd Leno. They are two goalkeepers who are important for us. They have different qualities but for us in the way we want to play, they can [both] play. For Saturday, the decision for me is easy. Petr Cech can continue to start the match, I believe in him. If Bernd starts, I believe in him also.”
Cech, now 36-years old and in his 15th Premier League season, has certainly proved himself enough to keep hold of the starting spot for the near future. But a string of bad performances, ones that put Arsenal behind the eight ball in terms of getting back to the top four, could see Leno take Cech’s spot permanently. Considering Cech didn’t leave Arsenal this summer, he clearly sees his short-term future at the club, but he may want to find a new home elsewhere in the Premier League if he loses Emery’s trust.
That being said, Emery said he understands that players may be slow to adjust to a new philosophy and style of play.
“We need to keep our personality, keep our mentality,” Emery said. “I believe in our team. You shouldn’t change your mentality if you lose the first game. I want a consistency in our way. Saturday is a very good option to show our personality, our capacity against a big team like Chelsea.”
In other Arsenal news, starting left back Ainsley Maitland-Niles suffered a fractured left leg against Manchester City, which will keep him out for six to eight weeks. Luckily for the Gunners, Nacho Monreal has returned to full training and could deputize against Chelsea, or Stephan Lichtsteiner could move over from right back to play left back.