Arsenal head coach Unai Emery has delivered a ringing endorsement of Petr Cech and suggested that he will keep his place for tomorrow’s match against former club Chelsea after his distribution was questioned following the 2-0 defeat against Manchester City.
Cech himself said that he was being challenged to perform differently from the majority of his career amid a desire for the team to play out from the back but Emery also stressed yesterday that there will be times when he is happy for his goalkeeper to make long clearances.
Cech had his distribution mocked on social media by new signing Bernd Leno’s former team Bayer Leverkusen. The Bundesliga club highlighted a miscued clearance with the message, “in case you were wondering how to play out of the back..we might know a guy”.
Why do teams play out from the back, why are Man City good at it and why did it not work for Arsenal?
Cech was clearly unhappy and said that it was “sad” to see other clubs not sharing values of “fair competition, professionalism and sportsmanship”.
Leverkusen responded by saying that it had been “a bit of banter” before praising Cech’s save to deny Sergio Aguero. Cech did make some important saves to limit the margin of City’s victory but his place is under pressure after Arsenal signed Leno this summer for a club record £22 million fee for a goalkeeper.
“I am very happy with Cech’s performance - he has experience, he has quality, he has the capacity,” said Emery. “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.”
Asked if modern goalkeepers must be able to play out with their feet, Emery said: “Goalkeepers can play like a player, to start short with the centre-back or the right or left-back. It is not compulsory. Maybe if the opposition is doing high pressing against us, then we need also to find another option and to play the ball long in the second action. We are training for each situation.”
Emery also stressed that he wants his players to keep faith with the new philosophy, even if results do not initially go for them. “You shouldn’t change your mentality if you lose the first game - I want a consistency in our way,” he said.
Nacho Monreal is available to start against Chelsea at left-back following injuries to both Sead Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.