Arsenal manager Unai Emery has given Petr Cech his full backing ahead of Saturday’s match against former club Chelsea after his distribution and ability to play out from defence was questioned following the 2-0 defeat against Manchester City.
Cech himself admitted that he was being asked to perform differently from the majority of his career by sometimes playing almost as a spare outfielder and had his efforts highlighted on social media by new signing Bernd Leno’s former club Bayer Leverkusen.
The Bundesliga team had highlighted a miscued clearance with the message, “in case you were wondering how to play out of the back..we might know a guy”.
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Cech then responded: “At Arsenal we share important values which make us a big club not only on the football side. Fair competition, professionalism and sportsmanship are the biggest ones you teach young footballers and it’s sad to see when other clubs don’t share the same values.”
Leverkusen said that it had been “a joke” and “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 and also stressed that he was enjoying the new challenge. Emery also suggested on Thursday that the 36-year-old will keep his Premier League place against Chelsea, with whom he spent 11 years and won every major club trophy.
Leno became Arsenal’s most expensive ever goalkeeper when he was signed this summer by Arsenal for £22 million.
“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.”
Emery also stressed that he wants his players to keep faith with the new philosophy, even if results do not initially go for them.
“We need to keep our personality, keep our mentality,” he 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.”
Nacho Monreal is also now available to start against Chelsea at left-back following injuries to both Sead Kolasinac and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, although Stephan Lichtsteiner could also move from his usual right-back position.