Former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino has ramped up the mind games on Unai Emery ahead of next week’s Europa League final, according to the Times.
Petr Cech has been Arsenal’s Europa League goalkeeper this season and the showpiece final would be the stopper’s final match in football before his retirement, coming against his old club no less.
But Cascarino said: “Petr Cech should not play in the Europa League final. Not because he is due to join Chelsea as a sporting director but because he is a far inferior player to Bernd Leno.
“If a manager picks a second-choice goalkeeper in a game of such magnitude, it is a sackable offence. It’s total negligence. Cech is the number two at Arsenal for a reason. It will be ridiculous if the 37-year-old starts the biggest game of their season.”
This is clear hyperbole from Cascarino. Manchester United played their second choice goalkeeper, Sergio Romero, in the 2017 final and beat Ajax 2-0.
If Cech, who signed for Arsenal for a reported (BBC) £10m in 2015, plays the match and Arsenal win, it absolutely wouldn’t be a negligent decision from Unai Emery.
It would likely be perceived as a hugely respectful and poignant call, and should curry favour among the rest of the squad.
Even if Cech makes a mistake, Emery could justify his decision by stating he was simply sticking with the policy he employed all season.