All Aboard the Raya Goalkeeping Train!
David Raya had been on Arsenal’s radar for quite some time, when he was still in the Championship with Brentford, but Arsenal’s £10 million offer to Brentford was rejected, and the Gunners went to Sheffield United to sign Aaron Ramsdale to provide competition to Bernd Leno, with Emiliano Martinez moving to Aston Villa. We all know how it panned out – Leno lost his place in the squad to Ramsdale, and Arsenal signed Matt Turner as backup to Ramsdale.
Ramsdale had his struggles in his first Arsenal season but showed massive improvement last season, starting all 38 games in the Premier League for the Gunners, making 94 saves and keeping 14 clean sheets. Ramsdale also grew in influence in the club, and right earned himself a new contract extension.
It seemed that Arteta and Edu Gaspar were focused with player departures ahead of the new campaign, but the dynamism of the transfer window was on show, as the club had to react to mitigate potential changes with player movements. Weeks ago, the Mail Online published an article confirming Nottingham Forest’s interest in signing Turner from Arsenal, which will leave a backup goalkeeping void with the likes of Karl Hein, Arthur Okonkwo and Runar Alex Runarsson not good enough to compete for Arsenal at Premier League and Champions League level.
Turner knew that his only avenue to game time this season would be in the domestic league cup competitions, and if Arsenal crash out early, he will have to wait for something as extreme as Ramsdale getting injured before he can feature between the sticks again, and with Nottingham Forest calling, surely he had to heed the call. Keylor Navas has returned to Paris and Dean Henderson is closer to being Andre Onana’s backup than being No. 1 at Nottingham Forest. The club still has the seasoned veteran, Wayne Hennessey, and the returning Ethan Horvath, that had a great loan spell in the Championship for Luton Town last season, but Turner represented experience and a cheap avenue to have a consistent goalie in the Premier League. He’s also a full time international player and certainly wanted to keep his place in the USMNT squad by getting good minutes in club football.
As fate would have it, Turner’s first turn up for Nottingham Forest was against Arsenal, and he made five saves as the Gunners ran out as 2-1 winners in a game forever marred by Jurrien Timber’s knee injury. Provided the club fail in their pursuit of Henderson, Turner would be their No. 1 for the entirety of this season at the very least.
Raya put up some monster numbers last season for Brentford, helping them to their mid-table finish with some breathtaking goalkeeping displays. He was first in the Premier League last season for saves (154), first for saves from outside the box (64), first for touches (1,550), first for long passes completed (410) and second for crosses caught (50), garnering 12 clean sheets along the way.
In direct comparison with Ramsdale, Raya faced 205 shots and conceded 43 goals while Ramsdale faced 138 shots and conceded 42. However, Ramsdale beat Raya to win the Best Goalkeeper award in the London Awards, as well as the Premier League Team of the Season.
The picture below gives a detailed overview of Raya vs. Ramsdale’s stats in the course of the entirety of the 2022/23. Let’s bear in mind that Raya was in the weaker defense though.
Like Ramsdale, Raya is an excellent shot stopper, contains bags of bravery, unbelievable distribution and can build up from the back with sheer confidence. So Arteta will be signing a goalie that can offer just as much as Ramsdale in goal. However, Raya’s arrival will produce very stiff competition for Ramsdale and he would know that he’s one cock up away from being benched permanently, and at a club like Arsenal, the trend is quite scary – Leno came up as a backup to Petr Cech, Cech messed up, Leno stepped in. Ramsdale did the same to Leno, and he will be fully aware of how ruthless Arteta can be.
Raya has joined Arsenal on loan from Brentford, and he’s over the moon joining us, confirming that he couldn’t say no to the opportunity to play for Arsenal. The club’s Sporting Director, Edu, waxed lyrical about the club’s new acquisition,
“We welcome David to us on a season-long loan from Brentford. David is a top-quality goalkeeper, who has consistently performed to a high level with Brentford in the Premier League. With David joining us we are adding quality and depth to our squad so we can perform at the highest possible level in all competitions.”
This is the strongest I have seen this squad in quite some time, having exceptional quality in every playing position, and Raya’s battle with Ramsdale this season will be one for the ages. I can’t wait to see him in action and with Arsenal competing at four fronts, there will be a lot of gametime for both goalies.
I wonder if Arteta would throw Raya straight to the deep end when the Gunners visit Selhurst Park on Monday. Hopefully, he would have had some time to gel with the squad and with his fav, Inaki Cana, still on Arsenal’s ranks, I trust him to bed in swiftly, in his bid to provide stiff competition to the incumbent No. 1, Ramsdale.
We are all aboard the Raya goalkeeping train!
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