Petr Cech comments show change is happening at Arsenal

There’s an episode of the popular British comedy ‘The IT Crowd’ in which the two main characters pose as football fans. With no real knowledge of the game, they trot out a well-known cliche about Arsenal in an attempt to fit in. “Thing about Arsenal is,” Moss says, “they always try and walk it in.”

This might have been meant as a demonstration of the usual banal conversation that often happens between football fans, but it was something of a truism. Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, particularly in the latter years of his tenure, were renowned for their stubborn commitment to a certain philosophy. As Moss says, it was frequently to their detriment.


Petr Cech said something similar after the Gunners’ weekend win over Everton, albeit in a slightly more nuanced way. “What we lacked in the past – I would say the ‘Arsenal way’ was more important than getting the points sometimes and this is not how you win the league,” explained the veteran goalkeeper. “Sometimes you need to make sure you win an ugly game, when you are not playing completely well but you just dig deep, close the back door and win 1-0 no matter how.”

Indeed, Arsenal had forgotten how to win dirty, how to get the job done when they weren’t at their best. This undermined all their efforts over the final years of Wenger’s tenure as manager. Not that the Frenchman ever accepted this. Wenger had complete faith in his footballing philosophy and this subsequently resulted in a stubbornness that held back his team.

Cech’s comments suggest that the players in the Emirates Stadium dressing room have at least gone some way to recognising the problems that held them back in recent years. That is an important step in overhauling the culture at the club. Whether that has come naturally or through the will of new manager Unai Emery, it is a significant development either way.

Change has been slow over the early part of the season. Many expected a revolution in the months following Wenger’s long-awaited exit from the club, but it has been more of a gradual evolution under Emery. A difficult fixture list made the process even slower, with the Gunners starting the new Premier League season with back-to-back defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea.

The Gunners were far from at their best against Everton at the weekend, but they recorded the much-needed win to lift themselves into the Premier League’s top six. Last season, they might well have dropped points here. Therein lies the change that Emery has made at Arsenal. It might not be as profound as some might have hoped for by this stage, but it is there. Cech sees it.

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EPL Best XI – Riyad Mahrez leads the way

Riyad Mahrez

The sixth weekend of the Premier League season saw Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea maintain their unbeaten starts to the campaign, while Burnley picked up their first three points of 2018-19 with a 4-0 win over Bournemouth. Let’s take a look at which players made our Best XI of the Weekend.

GK: Petr Cech, Arsenal – seven points
With eight teams keeping clean sheets this weekend, EPL Fantasy managers picked up plenty of points from goalkeepers and defenders. Petr Cech was key in the first half of Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Everton, earning himself seven points.

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Five wins in a row and positives aplenty for Unai Emery’s Arsenal


Arsenal collected their first clean sheet of the season when they defeated Marco Silva’s Everton 2-0 in London on Sunday evening. The win marked their fifth consecutive win in all competitions.

The Gunners got off to a rather torrid start to their campaign, losing to Manchester City and Chelsea in their opening games. Continue reading

Underappreciated Sokratis Papastathopoulos proves superb summer signing at £14.40 million


On 90 minutes against West Ham United, Arsenal, who were leading 2-1 then, found themselves sliced open via a counterattack. The Gunners fans must have expected their side to give away points as they’d often done in the seasons prior. Summer signings Sokratis Papastathopoulos, however, bucked the trend when he committed a smart foul, ensuring the Hammers didn’t get back into the game. The Arsenal attackers duly doubled the lead a couple of minutes from then, ending the game 3-1 to give the club their first win of the season. Continue reading

Petr Cech is undermining Unai Emery’s Arsenal revolution

Poor Petr Cech. At 36 years old, he is a stalwart of the Premier League, one of the best goalkeepers the English game has ever seen. He was won everything there is to win in the club game and is one of the few players in the Arsenal squad who can class himself as a proven winner.

And yet the Czech finds himself undermining the Unai Emery revolution at the Emirates Stadium. It’s not completely his fault. Cech’s weakness for playing with the ball at his feet has long been known and still Emery has stuck with the veteran as he attempts to implement a style of play that demands the Gunners play out from the back.


This has seen a number of calamitous mistakes from Cech over the opening few weeks of the 2018/19 season. Manchester City exposed the 36-year-old on opening weekend, but at least Emery could argue that Pep Guardiola’s side press higher and harder than anyone else in the Premier League.

Cech was similarly vulnerable against Cardiff City on Sunday, though. Under little pressure, he still looked extremely comfortable passing out from the back. This disrupted Arsenal’s entire game plan, with Cech eventually resorting to kicking the ball long. That undermined all that Emery had presumably worked on during the week in getting his team to play through the lines of defence, midfield and attack.

“Cech is one of the best goalkeepers the Premier League has seen, but that really is not his game,” Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster explained when asked whether Cech could play the way Emery wants him to. “His strong points have always been being big and commanding and making saves, but the way football is going now you almost have to be one of those Ederson-type of goalkeepers.”

All the while summer signing Bernd Leno sits on the Arsenal bench. He might not be an Ederson-esque goalkeeper either, but the German is almost certainly better with the ball at his feet than Cech, who at times looks more likely to trip over possession than play it out effectively to a full back or central defender.

Until Emery gets this right, it’s unlikely that his Arsenal revolution will start to fully turn. Look at how Guardiola had to replace Claudio Bravo with Ederson after just one season at Manchester City. His team were stilted in their possession of the ball until the arrival of the Brazilian goalkeeper from Benfica last summer. That proved to be the catalyst for a record-breaking title win.

This isn’t to say that finding a new goalkeeper will solve all of Arsenal’s problems, but Emery is currently building his team on shaky foundations. Until he addressees that, the Gunners will be walking on quick sand. Cech will go down as one of the best the Premier League has ever seen, but he is no longer the man for the job at the Emirates.

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Bernd Leno deserves chance as Petr Cech proves ill-suited to Unai Emery’s system


Much has been talked about the impact second-half substitute Lucas Torreira had in Arsenal’s 3-2 win at Cardiff City and deservedly so. The second biggest talking point that could have very well been the talking point in any of their games so far was Petr Cech’s performance in between the sticks.

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EPL Game of the Weekend – Chelsea 3-2 Arsenal


The most exciting match from the second week of the 2018-19 Premier League season saw Chelsea defeat Arsenal 3-2 at Stamford Bridge, with Maurizio Sarri’s side surrendering a two-goal lead before striking late on through Marcos Alonso to pick up their second win in as many games.

Both teams put away chances in the first half, with Pedro and Alvaro Morata scoring for the hosts before quickfire goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi for the Gunners to level things up just before half-time, but it was the 2016-17 champions who earned the early-season bragging rights in this London derby.

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Can Arsenal play out from the back with Cech in goal?

The Emirates Stadium moaned and groaned until they eventually cheered in sarcasm. Their nerve was tested as they watched Petr Cech attempt to play out from the back for Arsenal against Manchester City in their Premier League opener on Sunday. Ultimately, the veteran decided to start playing it long, much to the relief of the home support.

Unai Emery wants his Arsenal side to take a cue from the likes of Pep Guardiola and build their moves from back to front. He tried to implement this style from the off, asking the Gunners to play the Premier League champions at their own game. It didn’t really work, though.


Cech, quite simply, isn’t comfortable with the ball at his feet. The Czech is a Premier League legend, one of the best goalkeepers ever seen in the English game, but this is his most glaring deficiency and Emery’s style is brutally exposing it.

So can Arsenal really stick with Cech for much longer? The inability to play out from the back compromises everything that Emery is attempting to build at the Emirates. Without that capacity, Arsenal are having to play it long from goal kicks and clearances, meaning they are reliant on winning the second ball in the centre of the pitch.

Of course, Bernd Leno was signed from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer transfer window and so Emery does have another option in goals. Given the way Cech played against Man City, and the way he has played throughout his career, it’s surely only a matter of time until the German is installed as Arsenal’s number one keeper.

This season will be a transitional one for the Gunners as they get accustomed to life after Arsene Wenger. Emery must ensure that the building blocks are in place before looking to take the club to new heights in seasons to come and one of those building blocks will concern his pick for goalkeeper.

“Leno is starting with us, he is working very well and played very good in pre-season. He can wait [for] his moment,” the Spaniard explained when asked about his choice of goalkeeper after the opening weekend defeat. “Petr Cech is doing very good. Today he played good also. He has experience of defending our goal.”

So for how much longer will Emery stick with Cech? Is it really possible that at 36 years old the former Chelsea goalkeeper will be able to change his game to take the ball more comfortably with his feet? They say leopards can’t change their spots, particularly this close to their 40th birthday.

Guardiola had to admit his mistake in signing Claudio Bravo from Barcelona in his first season as Man City manager, eventually replacing the Chilean with Ederson. Emery might have to swallow his pride too in admitting he got it wrong by picking Cech over Leno. Stick with the former and Arsenal might have to adopt an altogether different approach.

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Everton plan bumper contract for Pickford amid Chelsea talk

pickford2Everton are said to be preparing a bumper new contract for former Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, as they seek to fend off interest from Chelsea for the 24-year-old. Pickford enjoyed a wonderful World Cup for England at this summer’s tournament in Russia, and so inevitable links away from Merseyside have arisen for one of the nation’s newest treasures. The Stamford Bridge outfit are looking around for candidates to potentially replace Real Madrid-bound Thibaut Courtois, and Pickford is high on the list of targets on new manager Maurizio Sarri’s radar. The Toffees, then, have had to compile a large pay rise in the hopes of keeping Pickford between the sticks rather than have to seek a replacement.

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La Liga stars set to clash in El Clasico- Video Preview

There’s no Christmas break for fantasy managers so Nicholas Carroll is back with another Euro Fantasy League preview of the weekend’s fixtures. Continue reading