As he watched the ball roll perilously close to his own goal line after attempting what seemed to be a simple pass, Petr Cech would have been forgiven for thinking “Jsem příliš starý na tohle hovno.”

‘I’m too old for this sh*t’.

Now into his 37th year on earth (yes, yes, he’s 36 until he’s 37), the veteran knows that if he wants to continue playing as the Arsenal number one he has to change his game almost entirely. His reaction to a bit of harmless ribbing from Bayer Leverkusen suggests that he’s finding it all a little stressful.

Nerves. We all have them and when somebody hits one, whether intentionally or by accident, our reactions can be excessive. To onlookers, we seem sensitive, thin-skinned and easy to rile, but often our outbursts speak to a deeper issue.

So it is with Cech.

Could it be that he knows he’s facing the very twilight of his career. Should he lose his place as number one to Bernd Leno there would be little chance for him to reclaim it. Every mistake could be career-ending for Cech, at least at Arsenal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zo_v27xn0zI

Why else would he react to Bayer Leverkusen’s tweets by demanding respect? Cech has made far worse errors in his time at Arsenal and reacted magnanimously. Think about his first game in red and white against his old side, Chelsea. His blooper there cost us a goal. Afterward, he held his hands up, claimed responsibility and vowed to improve.

Contrast that reaction with this one.

It’s not what we expect from the big man, so often the epitome of cool, calm and collected. There is no doubt that the criticism that followed Arsenal’s game against Manchester City got to Cech. People rarely get defensive when they don’t feel there is some validity to that criticism.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for him. Entering the final years of his career, he had to endure being coached into idiocy by Gerry Peyton after a working with the magnificent Christophe Lollichon. Now, he’s competing against Bernd Leno and he knows it’s a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ he loses his place permanently. Greats reaching the end of the road is always a hard watch.

As a show of faith in the Czech shotstopper, I expect Unai Emery to start him against Chelsea. But I could be wrong. I’m judging this situation on what Wenger would do and Emery is his own man. As he showed against City, he has no problem hooking players like Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka, players Wenger would remove only if injured.

Whatever happens, I expect Cech to try and prove his critics wrong. That’s what professionals do, after all, and he is most assuredly one of those.

Whether he is able to, however, is, sadly, another question entirely.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.