BATE Borisov vs Arsenal - Petr Cech hoping for Europa League glory to end glittering career

Posted Thursday, February 14, 2019 by PA

BATE Borisov vs Arsenal - Petr Cech hoping for Europa League glory to end glittering career

Petr Cech admits it would be the “ideal scenario” to bring down the curtain on his glittering career by lifting the Europa League with Arsenal.

The 36-year-old announced in January that he would retire at the end of the season, having won no fewer than 14 major trophies with Chelsea and the Gunners.

Having lost his place as first-choice goalkeeper at the Emirates Stadium to Bernd Leno, Cech has been relegated to playing in the cup competitions.

He will start for Unai Emery’s side when they face BATE Borisov in the first leg of their Europa League round-of-32 tie on Thursday night – and he already has his eyes on the final.

“Of course that would be an ideal scenario for me to finish my career,” he said.

“We prepare every day for every competition and this is what we are aiming for, we try to win every game and progress step by step and as a club it is important for us to try and go as far as possible.

“Winning the Europa League is a great memory for everyone involved and secondly it can book you a place in the Champions League – so you can see, there is a lot to play for.”

While Cech is expected to line up at the Borisov Arena, Emery was again quizzed on the continued absence of Arsenal’s highest-earner Mesut Ozil.

The forward has found himself on the periphery of the Arsenal side under Emery and missed the weekend win at Huddersfield through illness.

He was not part of the travelling party to Minsk on Wednesday evening, although Emery explained the decision was not a tactical one.

“The players we didn’t bring in the squad were because Aaron Ramsey did not train with us and Sokratis (Papastathopoulos) only started training yesterday and today – I don’t think it’s enough,” he said.

“Mesut is the same. (Pierre-Emerick) Aubameyang, after he was sick, trained on Monday, yesterday and today, and I think he’s OK for the match.”

Alexander Hleb will line up against former club on Thursday night but he admits BATE will not be at their best having not played a competitive fixture since December.

BATE secured their 13th successive Belarusian Premier League title in 2018, and their final game of the year was a victory over PAOK which ensured just a third appearance in the Europa League knockout stages in the history of the club.

As they enter pre-season to prepare for their title defence, Hleb – who made 130 appearances for Arsenal between 2005 and 2008 – conceded the game has come at a bad time.

“Arsenal are at the peak of readiness – for them this is a huge plus,” Hleb told Pressball, a leading sports newspaper in Belarus.

“It will be hard for us, and very much so. But we will try to squeeze the maximum out of the physical form that we have gained.

“The usual preparation is under way. We held a training camp in Turkey and got into shape, as far as possible at the current stage.

“It is clear that we did not achieve ideal conditions in such a short time. But we will try to look decent at home.

“We are not yet ready (to play at) 100 per cent, but the coaching staff decided not to force anything – realising that the guys had to rest after a hard season. And now we are working – in general, everything is according to plan.”

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