Arsenal great David Seaman believes Unai Emery will be making a mistake if he starts Petr Cech in their upcoming Europa League final against Chelsea.
The 37-year-old Czech goalkeeper will end an illustrious 20-year playing career following the final in Baku on May 29.
Cech’s career: Five things to know…
- Cech came through Viktoria Plzeň’s academy before starting his professional career at Chmel Blšany.
- He would represent Sparta Prague and Rennes before moving to Chelsea in 2004.
- Cech made 494 appearances for the Blues, winning four Premier League titles and the 2012 Champions League.
- He joined Arsenal in 2015 and has made 138 appearances to date.
- Cech, who ended his international career in 2016, won 124 caps with the Czech Republic.
In a twist of fate, Cech’s present team will face his former club where he previously lifted the Europa League title, as well as four Premier League championships.
Cech has been Emery’s go-to man in Europe having played every single minute of their knockout campaign and is expected to start between the sticks in Baku, meaning a place on the bench for current number one Bernd Leno.
Since arriving from Bayer Leverkusen last summer for a reported £19.2m, the German shot-stopper has displaced Cech as Arsenal’s first choice. However, sentiment is expected to prevail with Emery giving Cech a farewell start.
In the build-up to the all-London final, it was reported that Cech would assume a sporting director role at Chelsea; not one to question his professionalism, legendary Gunners ‘keeper Seaman feels Arsenal need to be at full strength.
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“My only thing is that Arsenal really need this; they need this more than Chelsea,” he told Sky Sports.
“They need to get into the Champions League and I’m always for playing your strongest team. That means Leno, but I’m sure Cech will play because it’s his last ever game.
“I was surprised when I heard it [on returning to his former club as a sporting director in the summer]. I was really surprised at the timing of it. I was thinking, ‘is that Chelsea that’s brought that out, or someone from Arsenal?’
“Nothing’s been confirmed yet, so if Petr plays I wouldn’t be worried at all. He’s a true professional and even if he is going to join Chelsea, that wouldn’t make any difference to his performance.”
A Premier League legend
With one game remaining in a playing career that spans 20 years, Cech ends on 443 Premier League matches across which he’s kept 202 clean sheets. He’s one of 15 ‘keepers to register 100 or more and the first to surpass 200. More than 80% of those shutouts came while representing Chelsea (162), with the remainder at Arsenal (40).
To date he currently shares the Premier League Golden Glove award with Joe Hart – both collecting four. Cech also holds the record for matches without conceding a goal in a single season, with 24 in 2004/05, his first Premier League campaign and when the award began.