Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech has defended his ability to play out from the back by saying he made 166 passes in the club’s first four games of the season.
A key component of head coach Unai Emery’s style is to entrust his keeper and defenders with possession to begin building attacks from deep. The instruction has triggered several panicked moments in the Arsenal defence as they attempt to implement Emery’s tactic, several of which came at Cardiff prior to the international break. In the most alarming incident during the match, Cech played the ball straight to Harry Arter on the edge of the box but the midfielder fired wastefully over with the score still at 0-0.
The Gunners went on to win the game 3-2 but, as in their three previous Premier League outings, Cech attracted criticism for appearing to be uncomfortable with the ball at his feet; he almost scored an own-goal against Manchester City by attempting to pass the ball across the penalty area only to drag it inches wide of his right-hand post.
“I had 166 passes in the first four games which is a huge amount and everybody picked up on only two. It’s obviously not a great thing to do when you pass the ball in a dangerous area, like I did at Cardiff when I gave it to Harry Arter but it’s part of the game that you can always make a mistake," Cech said ahead of Newcastle's trip.
The possession-based approach used by Emery is ultimately attempting to emulate the success of two of its finest exponents, Pep Guardiola’s City side and the best Barcelona teams of the last 10 years.