Petr Cech to stay in goal for Gunners
Manager Unai Emery backs Arsenal’s keeper after criticism by some supporters
London — Arsenal’s veteran goalkeeper, Petr Cech, will start Saturday’s Premier League clash against his former club Chelsea despite criticism of his performance in last weekend’s defeat by Manchester City, manager Unai Emery said on Thursday.
Cech struggled with Emery’s tactics, which involve playing out from the back, in the 2-0 loss to the defending champions. The goalkeeper was criticised by some supporters, who called for new signing Bernd Leno to take his place for the London derby.
"I’m very happy with his performance," Emery told a media conference.
"He has experience, he has quality, he has the capacity.
"For Saturday, the decision is easy. Petr can continue to start, I believe in him. But if Bernd starts, I believe in him also… they are two goalkeepers who are important for us."
Emery suggested that he would persist with his style, despite being outplayed by City, and sought a strong response from his players.
"We need to keep our personality, our mentality. Against City, the team kept their ideas, kept their spirit in the game for the full 90 minutes, even when we were losing," Emery added.
"That was a good thing… I want us to continue with this work and to be competitive for 90 minutes, but with a better performance both individually and collectively," he said.
Stephan Lichtsteiner or Nacho Monreal will fill in for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who is out until October after suffering a leg fracture against City.
Regular left back Sead Kolasinac is also out for a similar period with a knee injury.
Manchester City have the depth in squad to cope with the potential long-term absence of playmaker Kevin de Bruyne, who sustained a knee injury in training on Wednesday, the Premier League club’s defender Kyle Walker has said.
De Bruyne’s injury will come as a major blow for City, with the Belgian providing the most number of assists for the club for the past three seasons.
The 27-year-old notched up 12 goals and 21 assists last term to help Pep Guardiola’s side win the league and the League Cup.
"Kevin is a great player and it’s just unfortunate that it’s happened to him in training but there’s more than enough depth in the squad," Walker said.
"We don’t just rely on one player. It’s a team game and whoever steps in will do well. Obviously, it’s a big loss but we’ve got more than enough cover," he said.
De Bruyne, a World Cup semifinalist with Belgium in July, is likely to be sidelined for about two to four months, according to British media reports.
City host Huddersfield Town on Sunday.