Chelsea vs Arsenal: Petr Cech to start despite criticism of performance against Manchester City, says Unai Emery

The Arsenal manager will stick with his captain over £20m summer signing Bernd Leno despite the veteran goalkeeper facing a backlash following the defeat by City

Ian Baker
Thursday 16 August 2018 14:11
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Arsenal 2018/19 Premier League profile

Arsenal manager Unai Emery has given his backing to Petr Cech and confirmed the Czech goalkeeper will keep his place against his former club Chelsea on Saturday.

Cech was criticised for his display during the 2-0 defeat at home by Manchester City on Sunday, in particular with suggestions that he struggled to play out from the back, a style of play encouraged by the new man at the Emirates Stadium helm.

That led to speculation that £22m summer signing Bernd Leno would start at Stamford Bridge.

But Emery has dismissed that prospect with Cech, who captained the side on Sunday, confirmed in the role.

“I am very happy with his performance,” insisted the Spaniard. “He has experience, he has quality, he has the capacity. Also, with Bernd Leno [it’s the same]. They are two goalkeepers who are important for us.

“For Saturday, the decision for me is easy. Petr Cech can continue to start the match, I believe in him.

“[But in the future] if Bernd starts, I believe in him also.

“They have different qualities but for us in the way we want to play, they can [both] play.”

Cech struggled to adapt to Arsenal's new tactics at the back 

Arsenal are without Ainsley Maitland-Niles for two months with a fractured fibula and now Emery must decide whether to play the fit-again Nacho Monreal or start with Stephan Lichtsteiner in the left-back role.

“It’s clear that we don’t want to have injuries in the team,” he said. “When you want to play and be competitive, they can arrive.

“The first injury with [Sead] Kolasinac was important because I think he was playing well in pre-season. But we needed to play with another player like Ainsley [once Kolasinac was injured]. His performance can improve, he can get better in his career in the team. Maybe not especially at left-back, but he was playing well in the first 25 minutes on Sunday.

Bernd Leno is yet to make his Arsenal debut after joining for £20m

“After this injury, I tried with Lichtsteiner, who is a player with experience. He can play at left-back but his position in the team is more at right-back. This week Nacho Monreal is working every day, training every day with us.

“The two options we have now are Nacho Monreal and Lichtsteiner to continue in this position.”

Despite defeat in his first game in English football, Emery is refusing to panic.

“The first game gives us more information about things to improve and also things to continue doing,” he said. “It’s clear that the result was the first [objective] we wanted. But it was Manchester City’s day.

Stephan Lichtsteiner could replace the injured Ainsley Maitland-Niles at left-back

“We need to continue with our work to make the differences in the next match and in the future. For me, what was most important was the players know the positive things we did in this game and also the things we need to improve on and work more for.

“We want to build a competitive team. We are going to play away but we need to keep our personality, keep our mentality, because I think on Sunday against Manchester City, the team kept their ideas, kept their spirit in the game for the full 90 minutes, even when we were losing, and didn’t let [their heads] go down.

“That was a good thing, [despite] us losing 2-0. I want us to continue with this work and to be competitive for 90 minutes, but with a better performance than on Sunday, both individually and collectively. We want a good preparation before and a good response on the pitch to that preparation.”

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