LONDON – Arsenal's veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech will start Saturday's Premier League clash against his former club Chelsea despite criticism of his performance in last weekend's defeat by Manchester City, manager Unai Emery said on Thursday.
Cech struggled with Emery's tactics, which involve playing out from the back, in the 2-0 loss to the defending champions. He was criticised by some supporters who called for new signing Bernd Leno to take his place for the London derby.
“I'm very happy with his performance. He has experience, he has quality, he has the capacity,” Emery told a news conference. “For Saturday, the decision is easy. Petr can continue to start, I believe in him. But if Bernd starts, I believe in him also... they are two goalkeepers who are important for us.”
Emery suggested that he would persist with his style despite being outplayed by City and sought a strong response from his players.
“We need to keep our personality, our mentality. Against City, the team kept their ideas, kept their spirit in the game for the full 90 minutes even when we were losing,” Emery added.
“That was a good thing... I want us to continue with this work and to be competitive for 90 minutes, but with a better performance both individually and collectively.”
Stephan Lichtsteiner or Nacho Monreal will fill in for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who is out until October after suffering a leg fracture against City. Regular left back Sead Kolasinac is also out for a similar period with a knee injury.