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Petr Cech equalled the Premier League clean sheets record with his 169th shut-out in 349 appearances in Saturday's 2-0 win over Aston Villa. The former Chelsea goalkeeper's influence is already showing at Arsenal, writes Nick Wright...

In Athens last week there were moments on and off the pitch that typified what Petr Cech has brought to Arsenal. First, a flying save from Olympiakos midfielder Kostas Fortounis to keep them on track at 2-0, and then a moment of defiance in the post-match media scrum. "Who could have seen that coming?" came the reporter's question. "We could," was Cech's reply.

Arsenal will need every ounce of that belief against Barcelona in the last 16, but Cech's influence already appears to be rubbing off on his new team-mates. "He's changed us completely in that back four," said Theo Walcott after the 33-year-old's record-equalling clean sheet against Villa.

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"He's a talker, he believes in us all," added Walcott. "That's why he wanted to join us and having that presence behind you is always nice to have. He's very commanding, he's a leader in the dressing room as well, and he always likes to talk."

Petr Cech reached 169 clean sheets in 223 fewer games than David James

Cech's booming instructions can be heard from as far away as the press box at the Emirates Stadium, and Walcott's comments echo those of Per Mertesacker and Hector Bellerin earlier this season. "The way he's commanding and vocal makes him vital," said the German. "He's a great professional and we are learning a lot from him," added Bellerin.  

Petr Cech describes his delight at equalling the Premier League clean sheets record

But his impact has not merely been psychological, and the statistics emphasise why Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was so reluctant to let him go. Since a difficult debut against West Ham on the opening day, Cech has been key to a defensive record of just 13 goals conceded in 16 Premier League games. Only Manchester United have been breached fewer times, and no goalkeeper has kept more clean sheets (seven).

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