Arsenal face Chelsea in the Europa League final next Wednesday, and the clash presents them with the last chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League having missed out on the last two and finished outside the top-four again this season.
Manager Unai Emery has been handed a huge selection headache ahead of the game, with many calling for Petr Cech to be dropped in favour of first-choice goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
The veteran is set to rejoin Chelsea as sporting director after the season, and a majority of the Arsenal fanbase want him out of the final’s starting XI, despite playing 10 of the 13 Europa League games thus far.
Arsenal legend David Seaman wants the German to start as he’s better than the former Chelsea star, and it’s a sentiment former Blues striker turned pundit Tony Cascarino shares.
He even believes Emery deserves to be sacked if Cech plays ahead of Leno.
“Petr Cech should not play in the Europa League final for Arsenal. Not because he is due to join their opponents Chelsea as a sporting director but because, at this stage in his career, he is a far inferior player to their No1 goalkeeper Bernd Leno,” he wrote in The Times.
“I’d almost go so far as saying that if a manager picks a second-choice goalkeeper in a game of such magnitude then it is a sackable offence. It’s total negligence. Cech is the No2 at Arsenal for a reason. The club signed Leno for £19 million from Bayer Leverkusen last summer because Cech was on the wane and it will be ridiculous if the 37-year-old starts the biggest game of their season next Wednesday. There is so much on the line: a major trophy and the glory that brings to the club and its fans, Champions League qualification, the money you get from reaching that competition.
“You simply cannot justify picking Cech with so much at stake. This is the final match of a difficult campaign and it is clear that they would have a better chance of winning with Leno in goal. Sometimes clubs and managers open themselves up for criticism and Arsenal and Emery will be doing just that if they pick Cech and he makes a mistake and they lose the match.”