Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno reveals why he is winning the race with Petr Cech to be Gunners' No 1

BERND LENO believes he is winning his battle with Petr Cech because he is helping Arsenal to become the pass masters.

The German international has emerged as first choice Arsenal goalkeeper because he fits into Unai Emery’s plans to build play from the back.

And Leno takes great heart from his inclusion against Liverpool at the weekend despite Cech’s return to fitness from a hamstring injury.

Leno has now made nine appearances for Arsenal since his £22.5million summer move from Bayer Leverkusen and has yet to finish on the losing side.

He has conceded just eight goals in those games and feels that the 1-1 draw with title-chasing Liverpool was a significant moment for his new club.

He says: “We showed on Saturday that we can compete with the big teams.



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Cech started the season as first choice but has since been replacedCredit: AP:Associated Press

“We controlled Liverpool and  we played out from the back. We didn’t try to create chances through luck. We passed the ball in the way we wanted to play.

“The coach gives us much confidence to play like this and we train very hard with him every day and watch many videos.

“I can’t compare things to last season because obviously I wasn’t here, but I think the coach has changed some things.

“The way we play from the back is different but also to play very aggressive. The defence is getting better and more controlled.

“We don’t always have everyone running up front and nobody at the back. Tactically, it’s one step better than at the beginning of the season and if we continue to work like this we could have a great season.”

Leno has had to bide his time to make his mark at Arsenal after finding himself on the bench for the club’s first seven Premier League fixtures.

But though Cech returned for last week’s Carabao Cup win against Blackpool, it was Leno who got the nod for the toughest test of Arsenal’s 14-game unbeaten run against Liverpool.

He says: “It gives me real confidence to play in big games like this.

“I am proud and happy that the coach decided on me and I will give my best performances so that won’t change.

“But Petr pushes me every day because nobody is safe to play. I think both of us will play many games this season and so the performances have to be good every time.”

Leno rejects suggestions that he was at fault for Liverpool’s goal at the weekend when he palmed Sadio Mane’s cross into the path of James Milner.

He says: “It was a little bit unlucky because I just touched the ball with my fingertips and it fell to one of their players.

“But that is the life of a goalkeeper. It was a hard cross but if it had fallen to one one our players there would be no goal.”

Leno does not know if he will retain his place for Thursday’s Europa League clash with Sporting Lisbon but knows that victory at the Emirates will guarantee first place in Group E.

He says: “If we win this game, the group is finished for us and maybe we can change a lot of players for the last two games.

“Sporting is the biggest team with us in this group. We beat them in Lisbon and we if we win this one we will win the group and can focus on other things for the rest of the year.”

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