Arsenal

Mikel Arteta got Arsenal decision wrong – but don’t expect him to change his mind now

Arsenal secured a huge victory at Luton Town thanks to Declan Rice’s injury-time winner, but the match at Kenilworth Road asked more questions about Mikel Arteta’s decision at the other end of the field Mikel Arteta has done an incredible job at Arsenal – but the goalkeeper issue has become his one blind spot.

In fact, it feels as if Arteta is digging his heels in even harder over the issue just to make his point and prove everyone wrong. David Raya is a fine goalkeeper and might yet prove himself to be an upgrade on Aaron Ramsdale but the whole soap opera has not played out well.

In my view, Arteta got it wrong at the start. The Arsenal boss should have just said that he’s signed Raya, wants to give him a run of games to see what he can do and they still love Ramsdale. Instead, by saying he has two No.1s, they will rotate and he might even substitute a keeper during a game, it meant confusion, it made it an ongoing story and so every time the focus is on one of them.
Every time they make a mistake the camera pans to the other. It has put unfair and unwanted pressure on both of them.

Raya made two howlers against Luton Town and then embraced last gasp hero Declan Rice at the final whistle at Kenilworth Road with extra meaning. That was a clear message: Thanks, mate. You’ve got me out of jail there!

Raya is not a big keeper (his strengths lay elsewhere) and got bullied at Luton. Arsenal looked so nervous and vulnerable at set pieces.
And this is a team who have been brilliant defensively this season. But Luton was a different challenge – and not one to be met with a keeper who is still unsure of his own future.
But it was not just high balls into the box that did for Raya. Ross Barkley’s low shot went through Raya and must go down as a howler, too.

It is not always easy for keepers. There is more spotlight on them. It is a highly technical position and sometimes what we think is a mistake, isn’t necessarily so.

Raya does offer a much better option in terms of playing out from the back. He was great at Brentford. And anyone who saw him there, would know he is a serious keeper.
But Arsenal fans have come to love Ramsdale. He’s big, a presence and interacts with the fanbase. He’s such a character. Any club and dressing room would be lucky to have him.
Yes, there were errors last season. Playing out from the back. But I was shocked when Arteta moved to sign Raya, even though I think Ramsdale signed his new contract last May knowing that Arsenal were still keen on Raya. Arsenal had courted Raya for a long time.

Sadly, because of the mixed messages at the start, I’m not sure Arsenal is big enough for the both of them.
Personally, I think it’s time to put Ramsdale back in. If Arteta is really serious about competition and squad rotation, then it’s time.

But, let’s be honest, that’s not really the case. So I’m pretty sure Raya will play at Aston Villa on Saturday. And part of that is down to Arteta’s stubbornness.

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