Unai Emery challenges Bernd Leno to seize opportunity

Bernd Leno will make his Arsenal debut against Vorskla Poltava tonight with head coach Unai Emery challenging him to oust Petr Cech as his first-choice goalkeeper.

Unai Emery challenges Bernd Leno to seize opportunity

By Mark Mann-Bryans

Bernd Leno will make his Arsenal debut against Vorskla Poltava tonight with head coach Unai Emery challenging him to oust Petr Cech as his first-choice goalkeeper.

Signed from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer, Leno is yet to feature for the Gunners, with Cech playing every minute under Emery so far.

Cech has not been without his critics during that time as he has struggled to adapt to Emery’s demands to play out from the back.

Leno is more adept with the ball at his feet and Emery has confirmed the 26-year-old will get his first outing as the Europa League campaign begins.

Asked if Leno would be in the team, Emery replied: “Yes. Tomorrow he is going to play in the starting line-up.

In our planning with our goalkeeper we have spoken with Javi Garcia, the goalkeeping coach. We need with Leno to give him a chance and the minutes of the game.

While other clubs — including Arsenal under Arsene Wenger — have used the Europa League and other cup competitions as a way to rotate their goalkeepers, Emery insists Leno will not be limited to a fringe role.

“The first decision for me every match is the performance,” he said.

“Tomorrow is going to play Leno but each match we are going to look at each performance and each preparation to continue playing. But not for to give him or Petr or (Emiliano) Martinez one competition to play.

“They are going to start tomorrow to give him the minutes and the chances in this competition, but they are going to continue looking and testing every match.”

Emery has been quick to defend Cech after he has come under scrutiny following a number of errors in recent games.

Leno offers something different when he dons the gloves but Emery wants all of his goalkeepers to fall in line with what he expects from them in his system.

“Each goalkeeper, they have different qualities — Petr, Bernd and Emi,” he added.

“But they cannot change our style and maybe one quality of Leno is better than Petr, maybe one quality is better Petr than Leno and with Emi.

“But we need the same style to work and improve each goalkeeper in our style. They are working each training session, every day with Javi Garcia and with us, to do that.”

Stephan Lichsteiner has yet to start for Arsenal after joining on a free transfer from Juventus in the summer, but is expected to come into the side as Emery makes changes for the Vorskla clash.

Lichtsteiner replied: “I am hungry to get back to the Champions League.

“But it is a long way and we have two chances — the Europa League and the Premier League. We want to try as I am sure we want to play Champions League next year.”

The Switzerland captain is a serial winner, having lifted Serie A in all of the seven seasons he spent at Juventus, and insists playing for the Italian giants showed him that all games have to be taken seriously.

“One thing I learned with Juventus is to have respect for each competition,” he added.

“In the last four or five years with Juventus, we tried to play for all the titles, for all the trophies. While the Italian Cup wasn’t that important beforehand, we started to play for it with the best team possible.

I think in football you have to respect all the trophies. Of course the Champions League is a more glamorous title, but the Europa League is a really good chance for the team, for the club and all the players to win this nice trophy.

“I think for that we have to respect all teams in all competitions to give all games 100%.”

Emery, who won the Europa League three years in a row while at Sevilla, is likely to make further alterations for his first game in charge of Arsenal in the competition, with Lucas Torreira also likely to get a first start this evening.

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