Emery unsure whether Cech will stay at Arsenal

Ian Watson

Petr Cech is set to start Arsenal’s FA Cup third-round tie against Blackpool – but head coach Unai Emery is unsure if the experienced goalkeeper will be at the Emirates Stadium beyond this season.

The 36-year-old has found himself as understudy to Bernd Leno since the early weeks of the campaign and will get a rare chance to shine when the Gunners travel to Bloomfield Road on Saturday evening.

Cech, who moved across London from Chelsea in 2015, won the FA Cup four times with the Blues before lifting the trophy as an Arsenal player in 2017.

The former Czech Republic international has kept more clean sheets than any goalkeeper in Premier League history but, with his contract expiring in the summer, Emery admits there have been no talks about extending Cech’s deal.

“I don’t know now,” Emery replied when asked if Cech has a long-term future at the club.

“This is a question for the club and the player to deal with our necessary things with the goalkeeper.

“All situations like this, we will speak with the player and with the club but at the moment, I want his focus the same, each training, each match.

“He is going to play Saturday to give us his performance and then we are going to decide also within what is the best for him and for the club.”

Despite Leno joining in the summer, Cech started the season as Emery’s first-choice goalkeeper although he appeared to struggle with the Spaniard’s instructions to play out from the back.

He is set to remain an option for the remainder of the year after Emery ruled out a January move for Real Madrid’s Keylor Navas, with the manager pleased with Cech’s reaction to losing his spot.

“His respect for our decisions, and for the other goalkeepers, is very big,” added Emery.

“His commitment has not changed with his new situation. I am happy because we need that respect between us.

“Petr Cech has very big experience and he is continuing with very good performances and the most important thing is that each player can continue with his behaviour in different situations when they are in the squad – and today his behaviour with his different situation is good.”

Cech is likely to be one of a number of changes made by Emery for the Blackpool clash, with the likes of Stephan Lichtsteiner, Mohamed Elneny and Carl Jenkinson pushing to be involved alongside young talent such as Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah.

A quartet of players are to be assessed ahead of the trip as Hector Bellerin, Mesut Ozil, Nacho Monreal and Shkodran Mustafi look to overcome injury problems – although it is unlikely any will be risked.