When Bernd Leno joined Arsenal in the summer from Bayer Leverkusen for £22m most fans expected to see him start the season as the club’s first-choice goalkeeper under new manager Unai Emery.
But, five Premier League matches into the season, English football has yet to see the 26-year-old in action with Emery opting with Petr Cech to captain the team from the back. The decision has been a surprise to many, particularly after it became clear that Cech isn’t comfortable with the ball at his feet with Emery keen for his Arsenal team to play out from the back.
Cech has been lucky not to have cost Arsenal any points in the Premier League so far after one or two blunders in the opening matches.
Emery acknowledged that he is set to make a string of changes for Thursday night’s Europa League opener against Ukrainian outfit Vorskla Poltava, according to The Mirror.
“We are going to change and use a lot of players for different competitions, but only thinking about the best performance for us to win on Thursday,” said the Spaniard following his side’s win over Newcastle United on Sunday
Judging by Cech’s performances so far, it won’t be any surprise if Leno looks more comfortable with the ball at his feet. With all due respect to the former Chelsea stopper, trying to teach a 36-year-old how to play out from the back at this stage of his career might not have been the best decision Emery has made in his few months at the club.
Cech’s clearances have also not been up to standard and has failed on a few occasions to simply knock it long, but that has been down to the pressure that he and the defenders have put themselves under, trying to play out from the back.
Leno’s features are more comparable to the modern-day goalkeeper who is used to having possession of the ball on a regular basis. The German’s clearing and passing will also be quicker due to the experience he has with this way of playing.
Who lines up in front of Leno will also be interesting. If the likes of Konstantinos Mavropanos and Rob Holding are the centre-backs with Lucas Torreira as the defensive midfielder, then the fans and manager should see some quick distribution from defence to attack.