Tony Cascarino has suggested that Unai Emery deserves question marks being raised over his job at Arsenal if he starts Petr Cech against Chelsea.
The Gunners face their London rivals in the final of the Europa League in Baku next Wednesday night, hoping to secure a major trophy.
It comes after the huge disappointment of missing out on a top-four finish in the Premier League, which means that they must win against Chelsea to secure a place in the Champions League next season.
With that in mind, it’s widely expected that both Emery and Maurizio Sarri will select the strongest XI’s possible at their disposal, but there could be a chance that Cech starts against his former club having featured heavily in Europe this season.
However, Cascarino has insisted that the veteran shot-stopper, who will retire after this game and has been linked with a return to Chelsea as per the Daily Mail, shouldn’t be in the starting line-up as he is second choice for a reason and it would be a huge risk and mistake from Emery to not start Bernd Leno between the posts.
“Petr Cech should not play in the Europa League final for Arsenal,” he wrote in his column for The Times. “Not because he is due to join their opponents Chelsea as a sporting director but because, at this stage in his career, he is a far inferior player to their No1 goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
“I’d almost go so far as saying that if a manager picks a second-choice goalkeeper in a game of such magnitude then it is a sackable offence. It’s total negligence.
“Cech is the No2 at Arsenal for a reason. The club signed Leno for £19 million from Bayer Leverkusen last summer because Cech was on the wane and it will be ridiculous if the 37-year-old starts the biggest game of their season next Wednesday.
“There is so much on the line: a major trophy and the glory that brings to the club and its fans, Champions League qualification, the money you get from reaching that competition. You simply cannot justify picking Cech with so much at stake.”
Cascarino went on to compare it to Watford opting to start Heurelho Gomes against Manchester City in the FA Cup final rather than going with first-choice Ben Foster, and while he probably wouldn’t have made a huge difference in that heavy defeat, the pundit does have a point.
Emery simply can’t afford to miss this opportunity as if Arsenal were to lose, it would have to be considered a disappointing first season in charge and the lack of Champions League football next season would be a huge blow for them.
With that in mind, he has to start his best XI, and that means Cech sitting on the bench and putting sentiment aside.