Arsenal and Chelsea will face-off in an all-English Europa League final in Baku, Azerbaijan next Wednesday, and manager Unai Emery has been handed a huge selection headache ahead of the game.
Veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech has been in goal in 10 of the 13 games played in the competition so far, and the final was expected to be his last appearance for the Gunners ahead of his retirement at the end of the campaign.
However, there are calls for Emery to play Bernd Leno in place of the 37-year-old after reports emerged last night that he is set to take up a sporting director role at Chelsea this summer.
Despite the news today as I had already said to everybody before , I’ll make decision about my future after the last game . Now my sole focus is to win the EL with @Arsenal .
— Petr Cech (@PetrCech) May 21, 2019
Cech has since denied the reports, but former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman wants Emery to emulate Arsene Wenger by playing his strongest XI in such a crucial final.
“I know Cech played all the games, but in a final like that, especially against Chelsea, Arsenal need to win this game to get into the Champions League,” the Gunners legend told talkSPORT.
“For me, you play your strongest team, and if that means Leno plays, that’s what I would do.
“I know Arsene Wenger did it with me. He did it to Richard Wright, he played all the F.A Cup games and then played me in the final. It’s worth lots of millions. It’s huge and they need (to win) to get back in the Champions League.”
"I know Cech has played all the games but Arsenal need to win this game."
Agree? ? pic.twitter.com/VAWCbaiLPb
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) May 22, 2019
With next season’s Champions League football at stake, Arsenal cannot afford to lose the Europa League final to the Blues, and it makes sense for Emery to field his best side.
However, Cech hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down this term, putting in impressive performances during the knockout stages and will be eager to bow out on a superb note by shutting out his former side.
Nevertheless, Leno’s form means the German has been the better goalie this term, and it only makes sense to play him on Wednesday.
Emery has to make a big decision to make, but it will be hard for him to justify dropping Cech solely because of footballing reasons and not the leaked news.