Bernd Leno will make his Arsenal debut against Vorskla Poltava on Thursday night – 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 said: “Yes. 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.”
Several clubs – including Arsenal under Arsene Wenger – have used the Europa League and other cup competitions as a way to rotate their goalkeepers, but Emery insists Leno will not be limited to a fringe role if he does well.
“The first decision for me every match is the performance,” Emery said.
“Tomorrow we are going to play Leno but each match we are going to look at each performance and each preparation to continue playing. But not 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 who 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.”
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