Arsenal boss Unai Emery praises Bernd Leno after Petr Cech injury
LONDON -- Arsenal coach Unai Emery praised goalkeeper Bernd Leno for seizing his moment in Saturday's 2-0 win over Watford, with the goalkeeper making crucial saves after Petr Cech went off injured.
Leno had to come on for his Premier League debut moments before half-time after Cech limped off. The German then made two important saves in the second half, denying Troy Deeney and Andre Gray with the score still 0-0, before the Gunners netted two late goals to secure the win.
"He has been working every day so that when his moment arrives, he is OK to help us. And today he did that," Emery said.
It was Leno's third Arsenal start after two cup appearances, but the summer signing has so far failed to overtake Cech as Emery's No. 1. However, the German will get more chances to shine, with Emery saying Cech is expected to be out for two to three weeks.
"He was patient to wait for his moment, and it's arriving," said Emery, whose team leapfrogged Watford into fifth place in the Premier League standings. "The most important is that when the team needs his help, he has to be prepared. And he is doing that."
Watford manager Javi Gracia described Leno's one-handed save from Deeney's shot as "amazing" and rued his team's missed chances.
"I'm very upset for my players because I feel they deserved more, a better result," Gracia said. "We had a very good performance with more shots, more shots on target, a lot of clear chances to score. And if you don't score, you can lose."
Alex Iwobi also had a decisive impact off the bench as his cross was steered into the net by Craig Cathcart for an own goal in the 81st minute. Iwobi then combined with Alexandre Lacazette to set up Mesut Ozil for the second goal minutes later.
Iwobi replaced the ineffective Aaron Ramsey, and Emery admitted that the Nigeria international brought a different dimension to Arsenal's attack.
"He has the quality to play right or left, to do maybe more one-on-one [take-ons] against the opposition," he said. "I want him to stay more near the box, for scoring and to be more aggressive and find assists for his teammates."
It was Arsenal's seventh consecutive win in all competitions, and second straight 2-0 win in the Premier League after beating Everton by the same score last weekend. But like Everton, Watford had plenty of chances to take the lead and Emery said his team must still find ways to dominate games better.
"We need to control the whole 90 minutes more," Emery said. "In the second half, we scored two goals, but also we conceded two good chances for them. We need more control, we need to continue improving with possession and our positioning.
"The ball was near our box a lot of moments. But this passion is necessary today. I think our players on the pitch in the first half were a little nervous. We need to continue being calm, and giving them calm."