New Arsenal signing Bernd Leno made his Premier League debut on Sunday when he replaced the injured Petr Cech on the stroker of half-time. The German looked solid in goal and made some good saves to keep Watford out as Arsenal beat the Hornets 2-0.
Cech has since been ruled out for up to four weeks which means that Leno will now be the first-choice goalkeeper for the Premier League matches, but does that mean that he should play against Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday?
Leno made his Arsenal debut last month in the opening round match of the European competition against Vorskla, before also starting in the Carabao Cup match against Brentford last week. In both of those matches manager Unai Emery gave Cech a rest as he is the current first-choice keeper at the club, having played all of the Premier League matches until his injury on Sunday.
That meant that aside from the Premier League, Emery used his second-choice keeper Leno for the smaller cup games but now that he is first pick in Cech’s absence, doesn’t that present an opportunity for the manager to rather let Emiliano Martinez start on Thursday instead of Leno?
Arsenal have had a good recovery to their season after a slow start following defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea in their first two matches. Since then the Gunners have gone on a seven-match winning streak with five of those victories coming in the Premier League.
Arsenal travel to Craven Cottage on Sunday for another important match before they host Leicester City later this month.
Arsenal are in the process of restoring their away record and apart from wins at Cardiff City and Newcastle United last month, the Gunners only have one other win on the road in 2018, at Huddersfield in the final match of last season.
Although Emery’s men are expected to easily beat Fulham on Sunday, risking Leno on Thursday could end badly should the 26-year-old suffer any sort of injury. Giving Martinez a start instead should seem like the sensible thing to do for Emery.
The Argentinian has been at the Emirates since 2012 but has been out on loan almost every season. A start against Qarabag could only do him good in a match that Arsenal shouldn’t have any problem with.
Emery named a strong squad for the clash with the likes of Lucas Torreira, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette all having travelled to Baku.