LONDON: Arsenal manager Unai Emery will keep faith with goalkeeper Petr Cech for his return to Chelsea tomorrow.
Cech, 36, struggled with Emery’s orders to play out from the back in the Spanish coach’s first game in charge as the Gunners lost 2-0 to Premier League champions Manchester City last weekend.
Emery surprisingly left Bernd Leno on the bench despite Arsenal spending £20million ($25.5m, 22m euros) on the German goalkeeper from Bayer Leverkusen in June.
“For Saturday, the decision for me is easy. Petr Cech can continue to start the match, I believe in him. But if (in future) Bernd starts, I believe in him also,” Emery said yesterday.
Cech, who spent 11 years at Chelsea before joining Arsenal in 2015, nearly scored a comical own goal against City as a misplaced pass across his own area went just wide of the post.
And when Cech finally played one clearance long into the City half, it was met by huge cheers by the Arsenal fans.
But Emery insisted he won’t change his ways despite being labelled by former England manager Sam Allardyce as “stupid” for his approach.
“We are going to play away but we need to keep our personality, keep our mentality,” added Emery.
“I think on Sunday against Manchester City, the team kept their ideas, kept their spirit in the game for the full 90 minutes, even when we were losing, and didn’t let their heads go down.
“We want a good preparation before and a good response on the pitch to that preparation.”
One problem area for Emery may be solved by the return of Nacho Monreal at left-back.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles started against City but had to be replaced early on by Stephan Lichtsteiner after suffering a leg fracture that will keep him out for at least two months.
Experienced Swiss international Lichtsteiner is a right-back by trade and Emery is hopeful Monreal will be fit to face Chelsea after returning to training this week.
Emery will be without another left-back Sead Kolasinac until October due to a left knee problem, the club confirmed yesterday.