Cech is here to stay: Emery

Arsenal boss defends under-fire goalkeeper as he rolls back the years to keep clean sheet

Petr Cech showed a safe pair of hands in Arsenal's 2-0 Premier League home win over Everton on Sunday, as manager Unai Emery celebrated his team's first clean sheet of the season.
Petr Cech showed a safe pair of hands in Arsenal's 2-0 Premier League home win over Everton on Sunday, as manager Unai Emery celebrated his team's first clean sheet of the season.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Alexandre Lacazette's highlight reel strike and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's goal, which should have been ruled out for offside, hogged all the headlines on Sunday, but Unai Emery instead chose to give Petr Cech credit for helping to pave the way for Arsenal's 2-0 win over Everton.

Despite securing their fourth straight English Premier League victory, the result was far from straightforward, with Emery's side under sustained pressure in the first half at the Emirates Stadium.

However, Cech, who has been pilloried by pundits in recent weeks for struggling to adapt to Emery's philosophy of playing out from the back, came to the Gunners' rescue with a series of fine saves.

The most notable arrived in the opening minute when Dominic Calvert-Lewin surged behind the Arsenal defence, only for the Czech to make a sprawling save.

And, having survived the Toffees' opening salvo, Arsenal came out after the break with renewed purpose with Lacazette and Aubameyang showing their clinical edge in the final third.

While the predatory form of Arsenal's strikers was encouraging for Emery, the Spaniard was more heartened by his team's first clean sheet of the season.

It was a well-timed display from Cech after he was replaced by £22 million (S$39.3 million) summer signing Bernd Leno for last Thursday's Europa League 4-2 win over Vorskla.

  • Premier League talking points


    While the league table never lies, it can certainly lead to false conclusions. Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe probably had a shrewd idea that Burnley, who were bottom at kick-off, would be anxious to stage a revival.

    Sean Dyche's side did just that and, though the manager deserves credit for promoting striker Matej Vydra, who went on to score the opener - Burnley had yet to take the lead prior to Saturday - he was also rewarded for his continued faith in Aaron Lennon.

    End product has not always been the 31-year-old's strong point and his recent form must have put him among the candidates to be rested or dropped, yet with a goal and two assists, the winger fully justified his continued selection.


    He may not like to admit it but Roy Hodgson has a problem. The failure to see off a limited Newcastle side on Saturday meant Crystal Palace have won just four times at Selhurst Park in the league this year.

    The lack of goalscoring alternatives to Wilfried Zaha was all too evident against the Magpies, with Jordan Ayew doing his best to impersonate the injured Christian Benteke with an ineffective performance.

    The Palace manager must also address his side's obvious lack of creativity, with the Eagles also failing to find the net in their three home fixtures to date.


    Fulham were promoted with a deserved reputation as the best footballing side in the Championship and have surrendered nothing of their aesthetic quality in the top tier.

    Their Serbian manager Slavisa Jokanovic is unapologetically cavalier in his approach, and his side had Watford reeling for the last 30 minutes.

    The Cottagers' continuing problem is their shoddy defence, which has already conceded 13 goals and is the second-worst in the league, and Watford should have taken far greater advantage in an error-strewn first half.


Emery's decision to hand Leno, a 26-year-old German signed from Bayer Leverkusen, his first start sparked claims Cech was on the way out. But the Arsenal captain had other ideas as he rolled back the years with a vintage display.

"We are very happy with the goalkeepers. Petr has big experience and big quality. He has started the season very well," said Emery, who also gave a first league start to Lucas Torreira. "He is performing like we want and today, he showed us he is very well.

"I'm surprised there are a lot of questions about Cech because in pre-season and in the first (few) matches with us, he played well.

"Leno is calm. He knows he is working well, has a big future but Cech is performing well.

The 36-year-old, however, downplayed his heroics in goal, saying it was a team effort.

"Everton created a lot of chances in the first half and we had to stick together. I'm delighted with the performance and the clean sheet," he told reporters.

"I had a lot to do today and I had to help the team stay in the game. As an experienced player, you have to do your part."

Everton's second successive defeat left them without a win at Arsenal since 1996. Manager Marco Silva was frustrated with his side's failure to take their chances and hit out at the failure of the match officials to spot Aubameyang, who had drifted into an offside position, prior to scoring the second goal.

"It's a disappointing result. We deserved more. It didn't reflect what happened on the pitch," the Portuguese said.

"We had three or four clear chances. It started in the first minute with a one versus one against Cech.

"It's clear the second goal was offside. It's really frustrating. It's clear the player who scored the goal was offside."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2018, with the headline 'Cech is here to stay: Emery'. Subscribe