In the build up to Arsenal’s Europa League semi-final clash against Atletico Madrid, former Chelsea hero Petr Cech insists that his current employers belong in Europe’s Premier football competition.
In their 132-year history, Arsenal have only won two European titles – the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1970, when they beat Anderlecht 4-3 on aggregate, and the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup in 1994, when they beat Italian side Parma in the final at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.
The Gunners now find themselves facing a Diego Simeone-led Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals of the Europa League and goalkeeper Petr Cech has issued a rallying cry for his teammates, saying that Arsenal have a “big responsibility” to try and go all the way.
The Gunners are now 6th on the Premier League table, 13 points away from fourth-placed Tottenham and three behind Chelsea. With six games left to play in the season, it is highly unlikely Liverpool or Tottenham will lose all their remaining games and give Arsenal a chance to make the top four.
Speaking to Standard Sport though, the former Chelsea custodian said, “There is a big responsibility for everyone because we know with the position we are in the league, it is difficult. Someone would have to have a big meltdown in the last seven games to give us [Arsenal] a chance to sneak into the top four through the league.”
Cech then went on to say that not only is this a chance for Arsenal to book a spot in next season’s Champions League group stages, but also win a trophy that they have never won before. “This is another opportunity to add a great trophy to the cabinet,” he said.
Cech, himself a winner of the Champions League and Europa League with Chelsea, insisted that his current employers belonged in Europe’s top competition, saying: “A club of Arsenal’s size and history belongs in the Champions League. Hopefully we can progress another round and give it a shot in the final.”
However, the former Chelsea superstar is by no means a guaranteed starter for the semi-final in two weeks’ time. Over the course of Arsenal’s Europa League campaign, Cech has made only three appearances as David Ospina has been Arsene Wenger’s first-choice goalkeeper for the competition.
He had a mixed game against CSKA Moscow in the quarter-final second leg. Both of CSKA’s goals came after he failed to secure the ball, instead choosing to palm it away into the path of an onrushing player. That mattered little in the end, as CSKA weren’t able to complete their comeback.
Now it remains to be seen whether Wenger counts on Cech’s big game experience and start him in what is arguably the biggest game of his Arsenal career, or choose to keep faith in the Colombian Ospina, who so far hasn’t done much wrong in the competition.