Martin Keown praised Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno for his performance on Thursday night in the Europa League.
The Gunners earned a 1-0 away victory against Greek club Olympiacos in the first leg of a Europa League Round of 32 tie.
Mikel Arteta named a fairy strong line up for the European tie and his side have a narrow aggregate lead to take back to the Emirates Stadium for the second leg.
Alexandre Lacazette scored the crucial goal in the 81st minute, as he tapped in from close-range from a Bukayo Saka cross.
Arteta opted to go with number one goalkeeper Leno for the first time in this season’s Europa League and the decision appeared to be justified.
The 27-year-old was called into action on a number of occasions to pull off some top saves and he was a commanding presence in his box like he always is.
Keown believes that the German shot-stopper put in an excellent display against Olympiacos and hailed his contribution.
“He’s well used to the action he was having to come up against tonight. Leno has been quite a success story, Petr Cech they’re big boots to fill, and I think he’s done that successfully,” Keown told BT Sport 2 (10:10pm, 20 February).
“It was his first game in the Europa League, he’s coming out to make a point here. He’s (Arteta) now seen fit to put the number one goalkeeper in and I can see why tonight. He put a really good display in.”
Leno has proven to be a bargain £19.2million (Guardian) signing for the North London club after joining from Bayer Leverkusen in 2018.
Arsenal have an outside shot of closing the seven-point gap to the top four in the Premier League table and their form has improved, but their best route into next season’s Champions League may be through winning the Europa League.
The Gunners wasted that opportunity last year by losing 4-1 to Chelsea in Baku and it something that the players won’t have forgotten.
Arteta should be going with his full strength team in this competition and involvement in next season’s Champions League would help with summer transfer targets.