Arsenal’s transformation began over the summer, but one of Unai Emery’s biggest decisions has only been made over the last few weeks, and it could prove to be the difference between a top-four finish and a disappointing season for the Gunners.
Sure, tactical changes and personnel tweaks have combined together to produce something special at the Emirates, leading them to a 9-game winning run, but in the context of the season as a whole – few will pale in comparison to the arrival of Bernd Leno in the first team.
He’s only played a few games for the Gunners, but it’s already clear that he’s going to win Arsenal plenty of points this season. He’s a tremendous shot-stopper, whilst his agility and aerial prowess mean that he’s a goalkeeper with relatively few weaknesses – if any.
Perhaps his most prevalent advantage over Cech, too, is his ability with the ball at his feet. Unai Emery utilises a system with technical ability and passing at its core, and that often begins with the goalkeeper. Whereas Ceeh often fluffs his lines in this regard, Leno is versatile. He’s able to play it short to a defender if required, but he’s also talented enough to fire it forward if he spots a willing runner.
Last season, Cech made a whopping six errors leading to a goal in the Premier League, and so there’s no doubting that he cost Arsenal points. Leno, meanwhile, has impressed whenever he’s played in every competition.
It remains to be seen whether Emery will persist with Leno, but it would be a shame to see Cech come back into the team. His flaws are evident, and if Arsenal are to move forward, Leno must be involved.
He’ll be a real difference-maker this season.
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