Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno has admitted “it’s a bit frustrating” to serve as Petr Cech’s backup and is still hoping to play in the Premier League this season.
Leno made his debut in Arsenal’s 4-2 win over FC Vorskla in the Europa League on Thursday, where he had little to do before being beaten by two late strikes.
He has been on the bench for the Gunners’ first five Premier League games as coach Unai Emery has opted to stick with Cech as his No. 1 despite spending €25 million on Leno this summer.
“I came to the club to play every game,” Leno said. “But I think to move to a bigger club, another country, it needs maybe a little bit of time. It is a bit frustrating but I keep calm and work very hard to improve.
“The coach always makes the starting XI because of the performance. I think it could change, not every week, but he will change a lot. He didn’t say the league is Petr’s competition and the Europa League is mine. I will work every day hard to play more games.”
However, Leno said that his rivalry with Cech remains friendly, and that he is benefiting from working with the veteran.
“We have fun together,” he said. “We push each other and I think the competition with us is very good. I didn’t just come to learn from Petr. Of course, he is a big personality.
“He had a big career and is still a very good goalkeeper. I came because of the club. Of course, it is very good to work with him and for my development it is very good to have the competition with him.”
Leno looked composed with the ball at his feet against Vorskla, showing his ability to play out from the back — an aspect of Emery’s style that Cech has struggled with so far.
“The game that the coach wants is my style,” Leno said. “I think I did a good job with the ball, with the passing. Of course, the two goals were disappointing, but they scored great goals. Maybe I need a little bit of time.
“It is a little bit more of a risk to play this way because we don’t want to kick the ball up front. We want to play because we have the players to play from the back to have more space in the opposite 18-yard box.
“In the first half last night, the opposition was very deep, so we had big problems getting chances. So, when they started to attack more, there were situations where we can create chances by playing from the back. But it needs a little bit of time for the whole team to improve and to get the confidence.”