Arsenal goalkeeper Runarsson is ‘100 percent’ ready for the challenge of unseating Leno as number 1

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The Icelandic international is not content to warm up the bench at the Emirates Stadium

Arsenal goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson says he is “100 percent” ready to challenge Bernd Leno for the number 1 jersey at Emirates Stadium.

The 25-year-old joined the Dijon Gunners prior to the 2019-20 season as a replacement for Emiliano Martínez, who left for Aston Villa in search of more regular first-team football.

The Icelandic international has made just two competitive appearances for the club so far, both in the Europa League, with Leno as the clear first choice for head coach Mikel Arteta.

Runarsson, however, insists he’s not just in North London to make up the numbers and is ready to pressure Leno for a regular starting spot.

“That should be everyone’s mindset, that you want to play,” he told reporters.

“It doesn’t matter what position you play in. Maybe as a goalkeeper it’s a little different, but you definitely have to have the push mentality to become number one.

“If it happens in a week or a year, that always has to be your mindset, otherwise I think you are in the wrong profession.”

When asked if he was able to challenge Leno for a starting spot, Runarsson added: “Yes, 100 percent. Otherwise, he would not be playing for this club.

“I have to have this mentality that I can play and I have to believe it.”

One thing Runarsson has yet to experience is playing in front of Arsenal fans, with matches in England so far this season played behind closed doors due to current coronavirus restrictions.

That will change on Thursday, with the Gunners set to welcome 2,000 supporters through the turnstiles for their Europa League clash with Rapid Vienna thanks to a relaxation of government regulations.

Although it is a far cry from the 60,000 who usually attend the Emirates, Runarsson believes it is an important first step after nine months of empty stadiums.

“I think it’s going to be a big change. It’s always better to have some fans than not to have them,” he said.

“I think they can help us a lot to get results and get the extra five percent we need to win the games. Like I said, tomorrow we will see how big the impact will be, but I think they will be of great help.

“It is not the same environment with or without fans. You can also see that in the results. There have never been more wins away from home in the history of the Premier League. That shows how important the fans are and I hope it helps us tomorrow night. “

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