Seems pretty clear that it’s time to rotate Ramsdale & Raya…


5.31, 3.76, 5.83, 4.04. These are the ratings we’ve given to David Raya in his last four starts. That’s an average of just 4.735, surely the lowest among our starters. It’s downright Nketiahn. Raya, despite being superior to Ramsdale on paper, has failed to convince to thoroughly on the pitch. He’s been caught out, gifted possession to opponents inside the 18, and flubbed his lines. We’ve been very, very fortunate that our opponents haven’t made more of the chances they’ve been given. Surely, it’s time for Arteta to show some of that trademark ruthlessness and start Ramsdale on Saturday.

Had those opponents been more ruthless, we might have lost or drawn to Man City, lost to Chelsea, and drawn to Sevilla. In that last match, Raya was very fortunate that his attempt at punching clear a cross—a fairly routine one that—very nearly failed spectacularly, with the ball glancing off of his knuckles and spinning over the crossbar rather than away from goal. Against Chelsea, he let Mudryk of all people chip him from the wing. Whether Mudryk intended this or not is beside the point. Having already been caught out there, one would have hoped to see Raya raise his game. Instead, not ten minutes later, he placed a soft pass directly to Cole Palmer, who really should have scored.

These are the kinds of mistakes that really should see a keeper dropped, even if his deputy isn’t good enough to start. Last season, Arteta would have dropped Ramsdale for Matt Turner for the Mudryk goal alone. Here, we have a series of gaffes, and the only thing saving Raya’s hash is that we’ve escaped the worst that could have happened.

By contrast, Ramsdale, in his last start (away to Brentford in the League Cup), kept a clean sheet and earned a 7.71 from us (and a 7.2 from whoscored). Brentford may lack the attacking threat of Chelsea, but they have scored more goals to date in the Prem. What’s more, Ramsdale was playing behind a shuffled backline that included at Tomiyasu in for Saliba and Kiwior for Zinchenko. He didn’t do anything wrong, not that he had a whole lot to do—but to see him dropped anyway is puzzling. In his previous starts, Ramsdale played well in the 3-1 win over Man U, was a bit shaky in the 2-2 draw to Fulham, kept a clean sheet against Palace, and saved Rodri’s pen to help us win the Community Shield.

Unless there’s been some kind of row between Ramsdale and Arteta, or if Ramsdale’s attitude in training has been lax, it’s difficult to understand why Ramsdale remains rooted to the bench. The whole point of having depth and quality is to bring out the best in both players. However, even if Arteta’s decision to stick with Raya is meant as a vote of confidence, he runs the risk of endorsing mediocre performances—the exact opposite to why we spent so much to loan Raya in the first place. It’s similar to what we saw from Ramsdale last season. It was clear that Turner was not good enough to motivate Ramsdale to raise his game, and he got a careless. Fast-forward to the present, and we have to wonder whether Raya will start to get similarly complacent if he’s not dropped.

Whoever starts against Sheffield United may get something of an inside track going forward. The woeful Blades have scored just seven goals and conceded 24, and they’re winless away from Bramall Lane.

Arteta seems to have done away with the custom of giving top-tier competitions (Prem and Champions League) to one keeper and domestic cups (FA Cup and League Cup) to the other. That’s fine and dandy like sour candy, but if he’s going to continue to start Raya, we’re really going to have to see the Spaniard perform better. Which Spaniard am I referring to? I’ll leave that to your imagination for now.

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5 thoughts on “Seems pretty clear that it’s time to rotate Ramsdale & Raya…

  1. Palladio43

    Arteta seems incapable of admitting to any mistakes he may have made. His stubbornness has cost us before, whether as result of a tiff with a player or insistence on a strategy or style of play. His ego will always cost the team. Whether the Raya decision to continue and hope for the best while, most probably pushing Ramsdale out the door, will be duplicated by continuing to use Harvetz in a position he may not be best suited for, is still to be determined.
    One problem, as you write, is whether this situation stems from an internal dispute. Does that explain Smith Rowe, as well, and several who are no longer at the club. Does the stubborn streak and belief in himself explain why Eddie is still at the club and why we have no true back-up for Jesus (or maybe someone who Jesus should be backing up?)
    Whether this personality trait will cost us winning the CL, Prem, or just points or matches (or all of the above), the fear I have is that, as the critics increase in number and supporters scream for a change, Arteta will only hunker down or become more entrenched in his belief that he is right and could do no wrong. What and who will it cost us?

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      The stubbornness narrative persists for good reasons. It’s interesting though that Arteta talked about how we had dropped points last season when he wanted to pull the keeper (he didn’t specify but it was almost certainly Ramsdale) at the 60th and 05th minutes. Having admitted that but failed to act when Raya looked so shaky isn’t a good look. Dropping him against Sheffield United should be an easy move to make given how little threat they offer. On another note, I found it odd that Karl Hein made the bench against Sevilla – you rarely if ever see a manager name two GKs as subs.

  2. Tikpo

    I disagree with this analysis.
    Ramsdale is a very good goalkeeper and on paper, Raya is better. Both have a mistake or six in them especially with the style of play Arteta demands.
    Ramsdale did okay in his last premier league start against ManU BUT I had no doubts he would be dropped after that game.
    Arsenal dominates the first twenty minutes play a very high line.
    Erickson intercepts a loose ball and makes a brilliant pass between our central defenders to Ratchford with Saliba hot on his trail.
    Ramsdale is on his goal line and Rashford has time and space to pick his spot to unleash a trademark Henrysic curved shot around him to open the scores with ManU’s first shot on goal.
    Had Ramsdale been further up the pitch as demanded by Arteta, he would have had a better chance to intercept the ball or at least interfere with the Rashford shot.
    That was it for Ramsdale. I had no doubts whatsoever that he had lost the No. 1 spot once the goal went in.
    It is up to Ramsdale to adapt his game to his Manager’s style of play. He is an intelligent young man who can adapt if he is willing to learn.
    I hope he does.

    1. reg

      I agree with you Tikpo. If you pay attention to Arteta’s pressers Raya is doing exactly what Arteta wants. That is to pull opposition players forward and open space behind in which to take advantage. It has to be a finely tuned game plan and high risk. The higher the risk the better the reward- true in all walks of life.
      It is too simplistic just to compare the two goalkeepers and switching back forth between them makes the execution of the plan difficult to perfect. Obviously Arteta thinks Raya’s the best option at this stage and he’s paid to do what he is doing.

    2. Jon Shay Post author

      Good points, Tikpo. I might be focusing too much on the 1-2 visible errors that any keeper is liable to make and overlooking the bigger picture. EVen if your example might at first count as one of those visible errors, it might stand for a broader trend of Ramsdale being unwilling to fully commit to the tactics Arteta draws up. In the longer term, given each keeper’s age, it could be that this will be a valuable learning experience for Ramsdale to watch a more-experienced keeper commit to those tactics and play through the setbacks. It’s a role I had hoped Cech would play for Szczesny, but that never came to pass (not that I’m suggesting that Ramsdale will get caught smoking a cigarette in the shower…).


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