Mikel Arteta has defended his goalkeeper David Raya, insisting that he has shown no sign of the pressure getting to him, despite a section of Arsenal fans chanting Aaron Ramsdale’s name after he was caught out for Chelsea’s second goal on Saturday and another error almost gifted them a third.
Ramsdale has travelled to Spain for the Champions League meeting with Sevilla on Tuesday night after his wife gave birth to their first child at the weekend. After the Chelsea game Arteta insisted that he “loves” Ramsdale and has avoided publicly declaring a preference as he continues to insist that he wants strength in depth, even in goal, where he has floated the idea of rotating keepers or even making substitutions during games.
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That though was the fifth consecutive Premier League game Raya has played and Arteta said that despite a shaky start to his Arsenal career and a debate growing around the goalkeeping position, the decision over who begins in goal on Tuesday night “will not be based on a single action”. Arteta insisted: “Errors are part of football; mistakes happen from defenders, strikers and goalkeepers.”
Nor, he said, had the situation loaded extra pressure on the Spaniard, although he identified emotional control as “absolutely key” in European competition. Asked if Raya was suffering from being in the spotlight, having had an uneasy start at a new club where the man he has come to replace is hugely popular, Arteta replied: “I haven’t seen that. I am sure I haven’t seen that at all.
“That’s the pressure of playing at a big club where you have to win, you have to be at your best level and you have someone alongside you who is pushing you every day.
“If we go player by player and position by position, you will say to me: ‘What’s happening at left-back? What’s happening with the holding midfielder?’ That’s the beauty of the game and that’s the debate as well. And the fact that you have other options is going to make all that talk more frequent.”
The midfielder Jorginho, meanwhile, said he is convinced that Arsenal will soon see the best of Kai Havertz after a difficult start at the Emirates, and said that the atmosphere in the squad would make a repeat of the Champions League success the pair enjoyed together at Chelsea very special.
“Kai has so much potential and I have tried to stay close to him because he is a great guy and an amazing footballer,” the Italy international said. “He has just arrived at the club, there are so many new things for him to adapt to and learn. He is going to show so much more, but I think he is doing well. He is hungry for more and I am sure he will do it.
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“We have so much potential. Of course it is a young team but this is a competition that will make us grow and we need to enjoy every moment. We have to leave that question of how far we can go to the end. It would be something really, really special, especially because of the way I felt after I moved here, how welcoming everyone was. I think this club deserves to be there and succeed. We can feel that we are very close, there is this togetherness and that helps so much. I felt something really very strong, something really good and special about this club.”