Cech upbeat as Arsenal battle Chelsea for Europa League trophy
Petr Cech believes Arsenal are ready to relish the high stakes in today’s Europa League final against his former club, Chelsea, reports Press Association.
The Arsenal goalkeeper will bring the curtain down on his illustrious career this summer.
The Gunners must beat Chelsea in Baku to qualify for next season’s Champions League, which ramps up the pressure on Cech and company.
“It will sound strange, but I think generally at Arsenal there is not enough pressure,” Cech told Standard Sport.
“(Former Arsenal manager) Arsene (Wenger) is a real gentleman. As much as he hates losing, he stays a gentleman.
“If you lose, you win, you lose, you win, he kind of carries on. That’s something I’ve never experienced before.
“At Chelsea, at the times when we drew, it felt like a funeral in the dressing room. It was so bad.
“If we drew against a big team at home, it was like, ‘Oh no, it is impossible we didn’t win at home’.
“It came from everywhere: the players, the coach. Since the start when I was there, the pressure was there every game.
“I feel that when Arsenal need to win, we win.
“You go to Athens in the last Champions League group game (of 2015) needing to win 2-0, and you win 3-0.
“No matter where, we win, because that fire was right behind us as we had to really win. The pressure was what was pushing us.
“We went to Napoli (in the Europa League quarter-finals) and everybody says ‘Oh, you are rubbish away, they are brilliant at home’. We win 2-0, and then you go, ‘How do you explain that?’.
“If you are under pressure and you can’t perform, you lose that game. But we didn’t, because the pressure was so high. You know you lose, you are out.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea manager, Maurizio Sarri has said that midfielder, N’Golo Kante is only ‘50-50’ to play in today’s final due to a knee injury.
The French star will be given every chance to prove his fitness, but the game in Baku may come too soon as the Blues deal with several injuries in midfield.
In training yesterday, Kante spent nearly the entire open session training alone with a fitness coach and then went down the tunnel before the rest of his team-mates.
Sarri has said the injury, which was suffered in training on Saturday, is not serious, but the 28-year-old still may be forced out of the match at the Olympic Stadium in Azerbaijan’s capital.
“Kante had a little problem on Saturday, a very little problem within his knee,” Sarri told a news conference yesterday.
“The problem is the timing because we had only four days. We are trying. It’s not really a very serious injury. We have the problem of the three or four days to try and recover him.
“At the moment we don’t know. We will try. We will try to the last moment, so we will try tomorrow. But we don’t know at the moment.”
Should Kante miss out his absence would add to a growing injury crisis in midfield, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi both missing with long-term injuries.
“We are in trouble with the midfielders,” Sarri admitted. “At the moment we have only three midfielders for three positions, so we are in trouble.
“For us, N’Golo is really very important. He is the only defensive midfielder that we have, so for us he is really very important.
“We are trying to recover him. We will try tomorrow morning. I hope to recover him because I know very well that, without N’Golo, for us it’s a problem.”