New Arsenal manager Unai Emery has admitted he is no closer to settling on a new number one goalkeeper, after selecting Petr Cech rather than summer signing Bernd Leno to start the club’s opening match of the season, a 2-0 home defeat by Manchester City.
Leno was widely expected to become the club’s first-choice goalkeeper when he completed his £22.5m move from Bayer Leverkusen, and yet Emery left him on the bench in favour of Cech for his first match in charge.
Cech, who also wore the captain's armband, was however unable to reward his manager’s loyalty with a reliable performance. He could have done better with Raheem Sterling’s opening goal, while looking uncharacteristically shaky in possession, almost passing the ball directly into his own net at one stage.
But Emery said he was pleased with Cech’s performance and suggested he would be regularly rotating his goalkeepers in the weeks and months ahead.
“We want competence with the goalkeepers and all the players in the squad,” Emery said. “The position is the same as the others and there is the same chances for all the goalkeepers.
“Today, Cech played good. And he has this experience of defending our goal. Leno is starting with us. He is working very well, he played also well in pre-season. But he can wait to arrive his moment.”
Emery also insisted he was happy with the performance of his team despite their opening day defeat.
City took the lead early into the match through Sterling, before Bernardo Silva doubled their advantage with a superb second-half strike. Arsenal meanwhile rarely threatened, managing just three shots on target.
“It's very hard,” Emery added. “Today, Manchester City demanded our best performance. Today we watched and saw we have to continue working. But I am happy with the players. They ran and they fought. Also we have to continue working tactically and defensively, and also making shorter [the gap] between Manchester City and Arsenal.”
Things do not get much easier for Emery next week as his side travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea, who won impressively at Huddersfield on Saturday.
But in a positive piece of news they may be able to welcome back first-choice left back Nacho Monreal, who missed the loss to City as he continues his recovery from a minor knee problem. Ainsley Maitland-Niles started in his absence, only to himself pick up an injury.
“I don't know now with this injury,” Emery replied when asked to provide a fitness update on the 20-year-old. “We will wait to do the medical analysis with the doctor.
“But Nacho is starting with the group, working, yesterday. Maybe he can arrive maybe for the next match.”
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