Seaman on Leno: He gets on with it, there’s no fl ash
Arsenal’s young goalkeeper has caught David Seaman’s eye and, the club legendd tells Amy Lawrence, he believes the German can keep a cool head against Spursurs
It is the nature of goalkeepers to watch games through their own specialist lens. As David Seaman has observed Arsenal’s season unfold, he has been particularly curious to see how Bernd Leno has quietly wrestled the gloves off Petr Cech. Seaman, whose own standards were forged out of winning nine major trophies during his time at Arsenal, has been struck by the way Leno has gone about his business over the last few weeks.
But there was one particular test that made the most vivid impression. Leno was blamed for a goal Arsenal conceded against Liverpool as he pushed the ball straight to James Milner. It was not the mechanics of the goal in itself that Seaman was interested in. It was how Leno dealt with his fi rst moment of scrutiny in the Premier League spotlight that mattered more.
“You look at that and think:
‘ Right, you have had a blip, let’s see how you react.’ That is exactly what I look for in a goalkeeper: how they respond after making mistakes,” Seaman says. “We all make mistakes and he has come back perfectly, full of confi dence, showing a good strong character. I am really impressed.”
Leno arrived in the summer from Bayer Leverkusen for € 22m (£ 19.2m), a club- record fee for a goalkeeper but, unlike his expensive contemporaries jetting in at Liverpool and Chelsea, he had to bide his time before the opportunity to assert himself in the team presented itself. Cech began the season as
Unai Emery’s fi rst David Seaman
choice. Leno was able to concentrate on settling in without intense pressure. According to Seaman, the fi rst job for any new goalkeeper is to prove himself to his own group.
“The lads would have seen a lot of him in training and they accept you through that – it can work the other way and they can see how bad someone is! But that is the fi rst thing you have to do, to get the respect of the lads. If they see it in training the next thing is the question : ‘ Can they do it in a match?’ That’s more easily said than done. We used to have a lot of players who were great in training but just couldn’t transfer it to match day. They would get too nervous.”
The clamour for Leno to displac e Cech intensifi ed because of the sticky moments the veteran endured with the ball at his feet at the start of the season. Seaman ( left) disliked that debate. “What used to really annoy me was people saying:
‘ He can’t kick it out.’ The ball was being played back to his right foot by the centre- halves, which really infuriated me because he is a left- footed player . They needed to take that into consideration. His goalkeeping was still brilliant and defensively we were still very weak. He was having four, fi ve, six vital saves to make per game.”
After ter Cech suffered a hamstring injury y Leno stepped in, having watched hed six Premier League matches from the bench. When Seaman began n at Arsenal he walked into one of the e most stable defences in the history ry of English football. Leno has had no such luxury, with a far more changeable geable picture in front of him. Arsenal nal switch from a back four to a three, ee, they have not had a trusted left- back for the past month and they have been making do without two experienced centre- backs in the long- ong- term absentee Laurent Koscielny ielny and, for a few weeks, Sokratis atis Papastathopoulos.
Rob Holding is young and Shkodran dran Mustafi is prone to sudden en errors.
Seaman aman empathises: “It is really ally challenging because you don’t know what they are going g to do . That’s one of the biggest est things I noticed when I left Arsenal nal for Manchester City. I’d got a Russian ssian as my left- back, a Chinese guy as my right- back, and two French ch centre- halves who hardly spoke. e. It was a massive shock . It’s hard to predict what players are going g to do when it is changing a lot, so o you don’t get accustomed to habits ts as quickly as you should do. It helps lps when you know a certain player er might not mark tight at set pieces, es, so you need to remind them, or might ight switch off when the ball is around ound the half way line so an opposing osing striker could suddenly run clear. All these things go on and it t helps to get used to your defenders’ nders’ habits.”
Seaman aman has seen enough quality in Leno no to predict the 26- year- old can become a reliable presence in Arsenal’s nal’s goal for a good few years. “So far ar he has been brilliant. I don’t know w what footed he is because he is that good with both. The only way you can tell is if he takes a goal- - kick. I am impressed by his shot- - stopping ability and the other
‘ The other thing I like is he gets on with the save – he doesn’t try to make it look fl ash’