Cech is an amazing shot stopper. He is looking as trim as ever. You can see in his gait that he is battle ready and he proved it in our pre-season match against Chelsea. But one thing happened in that encounter that demands an inquest. Sokratis with the ball was under pressure and Cech had positioned himself to receive a short back pass. Instead of the back pass, Sokratis decided to put the ball out of touch for a corner kick. The resultant corner kick came to naught but why did Sokratis choose that option? Was it out of anxiety that Cech might buckle under that close press?
Bernd Leno’s record last season as a shot stopper isn’t too exciting. Yet we paid in the region of £19m for him in spite of the fact that we had Cech and three other keepers with us. His purchase doesn’t seem to make much sense unless there is something different the management knew he can bring to the team. If so what can that be?
We know that Emery is hired to infuse new life into the team. Unfortunately he has to get on with this task while hostility which starts this weekend rages. That is always going to be tough. Luckily he has had a month of pre-season with most of the squad, enough time to get his message across which though in its infancy is gathering momentum.
The changes he is bringing to the team starts with an added commitment to play the ball out of the back irrespective of the pressure. That is an essential element if the team has to be the protagonist. In the last two friendlies it has been the one area of obvious contrast to our previous pattern of play.
The commitment to this pattern is so central to Emery’s philosophy that it has to be well structured in terms of its tactics and the personnel executing it. Important to its success is that the conductor of this phase of play has to be the keeper, being the spare man that guarantees a favorable overload each time. That means that the keeper must enjoys the confidence of the players around him when with the ball at his feet. He has to be a baller too. Such a keeper is as much an outfield player as a goaltender. Such has been the redefinition of goalkeepers.
Germany is very quick in responding to new concepts in football philosophies. There are already a host of young brilliant modern keepers in the German leagues and Bernd Leno is one of the most exciting of them. We held our breath as he masterfully conducted that phase of the game against Lazio on Saturday. For us fans, it takes some getting used to.
Yes Cech is battle ready for the season but Leno is a basic building block in Unai’s revolution. In the overall scheme of things, today is important but tomorrow is even more important and Leno is there to lead us into tomorrow.
On Sunday we clash with Pep who professes the philosophy that his team travel with the ball. I hope it’s understood what he means by that. Emery is planning to steal the ball for his own journey. Welcome Bernd Leno.
Gooners lets get your take on this.