Gloves are off! Arsenal target Pickford has fight on hands to oust keeper Petr Cech

Arsenal

Jordan Pickford will have a fight on his hands to claim the No.1 spot from Petr Cech at Arsenal if he signs for the Gunners in the summer.

That would appear to be the message from former Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann, who says he was mightily impressed with Cech’s dazzling display in the 2-0 defeat at Tottenham on Sunday.

Cech, 34, pulled off a string of superb saves that kept the score down  as Arsene Wenger’s side blew any chance of finishing above their north London neighbours in the Premier League table.

And with Wenger said to be keen on recruiting Sunderland’s keeper Pickford, 23, Lehmann has been championing Cech’s current form. The German said: “I’ve always rated him as one of the best goalkeepers ever. It’s good to see that he’s doing even better this season than last season. He’s calm so he calms people down, he’s got a presence. He’s a fantastic guy and a big, big benefit and asset for Arsenal now. He’s credible in what he says and what he does.”

The relegated Black Cats would struggle to fend off a Gunners approach for Pickford but should the Emirates outfit follow up their interest (news of which was sparked by Wenger sending scouts to watch him) he may have to settle in to the role of understudy.

With Arsenal apparently already agreeing a deal to sell David Ospina to Fenerbahce, Emiliano Martínez, 24, would be the only other keeper trusted for first team action by the manager. To that end it makes sense to recruit Pickford.

And Lehmann has spoken of the gradual way Cech has improved his overall game since moving to the top flight to join Chelsea in 2004. He added: “Fortunately it wasn’t initially too big at Chelsea, because when he came we at Arsenal won the championship. In the years after, when he was 23 or 24, you could see what a great goalkeeper he was and year by year he’s improved.”