After Arsenal’s impressive campaign last season, nobody could have predicted that a fit Aaron Ramsdale would lose his place between the posts just over month into this term.
But it would appear that Mikel Arteta is not entirely comfortable with the England international as his first choice, following the summer arrival of David Raya.
The former Brentford keeper has started the last two games – against Everton and PSV Eindhoven – and the manager now has a huge call to make for this Sunday’s North London derby.
|What||Arsenal v Tottenham|
|When||14:00, Sunday 24th September|
|How to watch||Sky Sports Main Event & Sky Sports Premier League|
|Odds||Arsenal , Draw 16/5, Tottenham 10/3|
The Gunners are preparing for their biggest game of the season to date, when they play host to rejuvenated rivals Tottenham at the Emirates.
After an unbeaten start to the season, you would think everything would be rosy in the Arsenal garden, but the goalkeeping situation looks to have clouded issues going into Sunday’s derby in which the Gunners are to keep a clean sheet.
Ramsdale started the opening four Premier League games of the season, with Arsenal winning three and drawing one and conceding four goals in the process.
The manager decided to draft in Raya for the clash with Everton at Goodison Park last Sunday, a game in which the Gunners won and kept a clean sheet.
Raya then kept his place for the opening Champions League fixture, keeping another clean sheet in a comfortable 4-0 home win over PSV.
So what does Arteta do now for their biggest test of the campaign so far?
Ramsdale has the experience of playing in these North London derby fixtures, with the Gunners beating their rivals both home and away last season. The England international only conceded one goal to Spurs last term and that was a Harry Kane penalty at the Emirates.
Many will say though that the manager can’t legislate dropping his Spanish shot-stopper, having not conceded a goal in his last two matches.
It’s the type of decision a top manager has to make but, if things don’t go to plan, it could have an impact on both the team’s season and the future of Ramsdale.
Such was Ramsdale’s form last season, the former Sheffield United star was voted into the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.
That accolade came off the back of being selected for the England World Cup squad, with his club form helping to push his case to be his country’s number one.
Last season, Ramsdale kept 14 clean sheets in 38 appearances and only two errors from the keeper lead to goals for the opposition.
In contrast, Raya kept 12 clean sheets in his 38 appearances for Brentford, with one error leading to a goal - whilst also scoring one own goal.
Some pundits have suggested that Raya’s ability with the ball at his feet is the reason Arteta may prefer to have him ahead of Ramsdale – something highlighted by last season’s stats.
Ramsdale made 934 passes last term, an average of 24.58 per match, and provided 138 ‘accurate’ long balls. Meanwhile, Raya completed 1,475 passes, an average of 38.82 per game, and racked up 410 accurate long balls.
It may leave him with a difficult decision to make himself next summer, or even during January’s transfer window, as to whether he needs to move to pastures new in order to keep his status as a regular number one.