Ahead of the daunting trip to Goodison Park, Mikel Arteta approached the team lineup in a way people were not expecting. We saw David Raya’s debut in goal ahead of Aaron Ramsdale. Arsenal won the game 1-0 and reporters were quick to question Arteta about his reasoning behind the sudden switch considering Ramsdale is number one.
He quickly compared the situation with David Raya starting over Aaron Ramsdale to Eddie Nketiah starting over Gabriel Jesus, or Fabio Vieira starting over Kai Havertz. He pointed out that it is no different from tactically changing an outfield player to be more suited to the task against their opposition.
Mikel Arteta on why he opted to start Raya: “The same rationale that Fabio [Vieira] played here or that Eddie [Nketiah] played ahead of Gabriel Jesus. I haven’t had a single question on why Gabriel hasn’t started – he has won more trophies including me in that dressing room but… pic.twitter.com/gDe6KDbkgB
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) September 17, 2023
A new trend?
Mikel Arteta said in the post-match interview “Someone is going to do it [change goalkeeper mid-game] & it’ll be strange & you’ll ask why, but tell me why not? If you have all the qualities in another goalkeeper to do something, or if something is happening & you want to change the momentum, then do it. It is a regret that I have & now my feeling is to get everybody engaged in the team that they have to play, regardless of the competition – this is my message.”
Another bold statement was made by the Spaniard, he explained “I have few regrets. It was on two occasions, that after 60 minutes & at 85 minutes in two games, I could have changed the keeper & I didn’t do it. I didn’t have the courage to do it. We drew those games & I was so unhappy.”
The games many feel he is indirectly mentioning are the 2-2 draw to Fulham this season, and the 1-1 loss (5-3 on penalties) against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League last season. In the former, Arsenal conceded one minute into the game, and in the 87th minute. On both occasions, Ramsdale was a big contributing factor to the goals conceded. Against Sporting Lisbon conceding in the 62nd minute.
Could it work?
Many would see the idea to be crazy, due to the fact each and every side in football has a number one keeper cemented into the starting eleven, with rotations coming in for cup games. Other teams have a dedicated goalkeeper for domestic games, and a different one for European games. However, what Arteta is suggesting is to have the goalkeepers interchange depending on their suitability against an opponent.
Like any player on the squad, each has their own individual qualities and characteristics and performs better in different situations. It definitely has the potential to work if both goalkeepers are on board with the memo. Usually, if a keeper is dropped, it is not a good sign. However, Mikel Arteta wants to incorporate a new system for this particular position that has never been done before.
The GK union ❤️ pic.twitter.com/FpviPi4q04
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 17, 2023
Every tactical trend in football was experimented with and has been familiarized across the game. Some examples are Thomas Tuchel’s box-midfield and Pep Guardiola’s inverted fullbacks. This means there is no reason why this could be manufactured into a winning tactical setup and a possible statement for the future.
What scenarios would suit Ramsdale and Raya?
Raya is seen as a more aerial-dominant goalkeeper than Ramsdale, and more suited to calming things down. If a keeper is needed to protect a lead, he could be the better option to have on the field. His passing ability when being pressed under intense pressure is more reliable than Ramsdale’s in similar situations.
Ramsdale thrives off short passes and close quick saves, which he would be more suited for a side that dominates in the final third. Of course, scenarios cannot be pinned down to a couple of factors. However, we will see how this tactical setup develops throughout the season and whether it is successful. Now that Arteta has mentioned it and also took the risk of debuting Raya unexpectedly, one can expect this new way of goalkeeping to slowly build a presence in this Arsenal side, and potentially football as a whole.