Emery's Dilemma

Emery's Goalkeeping Dilemma

It's a new era for Arsenal Football Club under new head coach Unai Emery but there was more than a small hint of déjà vu during the Gunners' opening match of the Premier League season.

The North London side lost 2-0 to last season's Premier League champions, Manchester City after goals from Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva. Losing to one of England's bigger sides is nothing new to the Gunners after several years of consistently disappointing performances in big matches.

But there were some marked differences during the first match of Emery's time in charge. The Gunners responded well in the second half and probably should have reduced the scoreline on a couple of occasions. Also evidently different was Arsenal's style of football. The possession flowed for the Gunners as they attempted to build up attacks from the back. But this team is still a work in progress. At times, this buildup play looked effortless but at others, it came close to disaster.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech attracted particular criticism for his ability on the ball. The Czech stopper looked more than a little shaky throughout the 90 minutes but that nervousness culminated in an incredible moment when a wayward pass from 36-year-old almost found the back of his own net. Something about old dogs and new tricks comes to mind when considering Cech's new role in the side.

Building up from the back was always something which Unai Emery was open about bringing to Arsenal. This, aside from Cech's age, was what many believed to be the main reason that the Gunners signed another goalkeeper during the summer transfer window. 26-year-old Bernd Leno was brought in from Bayer Leverkusen for an estimated £22.5 million and it was largely accepted that the German would become the side's first-choice man between the sticks.

That turned out to not be the case during the opening match of the season. Cech may have put in a better performance with his hands than he did with his feet but there was still an expectation that the German Leno would make his competitive debut for the Gunners during the second Premier League match of the season against Chelsea. In his pre-match press conference, however, Emery claimed otherwise.

"For Saturday, the decision for me is easy. Petr Cech can continue to start the match, I believe in him," Emery said in his pre-match press conference before being asked what he thought of Cech's performance in the opening match against Manchester City. "I am very happy with his performance," Emery claimed. "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. They have different qualities but for us in the way we want to play, they can [both] play."

So, it seems as if Petr Cech is slightly ahead of Bernd Leno in the Arsenal pecking order. It was always a possibility that the former Chelsea man would start against his former employers but it is perhaps a little surprising that Leno isn't the first choice number 1 at the Emirates.

Based on the last few seasons, it has been clear that Leno is a goalkeeper used to playing with the ball at his feet. He played a similar role at Bayer Leverkusen to the one utilised by Manuel Neuer for Bayern Munich for so many years. Leno is a solid passer and is far quicker off his line than Cech but it's clear that Emery and the rest of his backroom team aren't keen on putting him straight into the starting lineup.

Arsenal will need a strong goalkeeper who is able to play with both his hands and his feet if they are to have a successful season. The Gunners have a lot to do in order to catch up with their rivals. The Gunners are an outside 15/8 bet on Betway as of 16 August to even finish in the top four of the Premier League next May. You get the feeling that whichever goalkeeper does play for the Gunners this campaign will need to be in top form if they are to get there.

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