Bernd Leno admits it has been a frustrating start to life at Arsenal – but the goalkeeper now intends to build on his debut and push to be first-choice at the Emirates Stadium.
The 26-year-old joined the Gunners from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer but had to wait for Thursday night’s 4-2 Europa League win over Vorskla Poltava to make his bow.
A Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang double, as well as goals from Danny Welbeck and Mesut Ozil, had set Arsenal on their way to a comfortable start to their European campaign.
But Leno could not toast his debut with a clean sheet as Vorskla rallied and halved the arrears – Volodymyr Chesnakov pulling a goal back before Vyacheslav Sharpar scored with the final kick of the evening.
Capped six times by Germany, many expected Leno to come straight in as the number one at Arsenal after joining in a deal reported to be worth upwards of £20million.
Instead Petr Cech has been preferred in the four Premier League games under new Gunners boss Unai Emery – with Leno chomping at the bit to secure a regular berth in the side.
Asked if he had been frustrated at being made to wait to make his debut, Leno replied: “Of course, because I came to the club to play every game.
“But I think to move to a bigger club, another country, it needs maybe a little bit of time. It is a little bit frustrating but I keep calm and work very hard to improve.
“I think my performances in training are good. I train very hard and maybe it needs a little bit of time. I keep calm. My chance will come.
“I came for the Premier League. I think it is the best league. The Bundesliga is good but the Premier League is better so I will look forward to playing anytime in the Premier League.”
Leno revealed Emery has not come to a specific arrangement with his goalkeepers over who will play in which matches, and added that he has a good working relationship with Cech.
“The coach always makes the starting XI based on the performance,” he said.
“I think it could change, not every week, but he will change a lot. He didn’t say the Premier League is Petr’s competition and the Europa League is mine. I will work hard every day to play more games.
“We have fun together. We push each other and I think the competition with us is very good. We both can improve and it’s still going.
“Of course, (Petr) is a big personality. He had a big career and is still a very good goalkeeper -it is very good to work with him and for my development it is very good to have the competition with him.”
Despite being an ever-present in the league under Emery, Cech has come in for criticism as he appears uncomfortable at playing out from the back – something the new head coach is keen to implement.
Leno is more at home with the ball at his feet but admits a goalkeeper needs to know when it is possible to do so.
“It is a little bit more risky to play because we don’t want to kick the ball up front,” he added.
“We want to play because we have the players to play from the back to have more space in the opposite 18-yard box.
“But it needs a little bit of time for the whole team to improve and to get the confidence.”