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Major Changes in the Arsenal Goalkeeping Union

The Aaron Ramsdale Matt Turner 'dogfight' story is hilarious

goalkeeping union!!!

Apparently, the Arsenal Goalkeeping Union is a real thing – composed of the No. 1 guy, Aaron Ramsdale, and his deputy, Matt Turner. Then there are the youngsters, Karl Hein and Arthur Okonkwo, as well as the failed Inaki Cana recommendation, Alex Runar Runarsson.

In terms of appearances last season, Ramsdale expectedly featured the most, playing in all 38 Premier League matches, as well as three games in the Europa League, which included the penalty shootout heartbreak suffered in the hands of the team that knocked Arsenal out, Sporting CP. Matt Turner, who was signed as a backup replacement for Bernd Leno, played two FA Cup games and five games in the Europa League. Karl Hein made his Arsenal debut in the 3-1 home loss to Brighton in the Carabao Cup. Arthur Okonkwo had two loan spells with a move to Crewe Alexandra last summer where he made 23 appearances, then he moved again the winter transfer window abroad to Sturm Graz playing 15 Austrian Bundesliga games, as well as the Austrian Cup Final against Rapid Vienna, that saw the youngster win his first piece of silverware. Runarsson also spent the entirety of last season abroad, playing 30 times for Alanyaspor in the Turkish League.

Arsenal had done their fair share of recruitments this summer and seemed content to go into the Premier League campaign with the squad they had, while working out some potential departures, but Nottingham Forest’s interest in Turner coincided with Arsenal’s 2020 summer goalkeeping target, David Raya, available for a sale, following his refusal to extend his contract with Brentford. Raya was one of Mikel Arteta’s earliest targets when he took over from Unai Emery, but Arsenal couldn’t reach an agreement with Brentford for his goalkeeping services.

Fast forward to the summer of 2023, and it has been reported that Arsenal and Brentford have reached an agreement of £30m to sign the Spanish goalie. With Arsenal selling Turner for £10m at pretty much the same time, Arteta is getting a goalkeeping asset that has over nine years’ experience of English football, with 108 appearances for Blackburn and 161 appearances for Brentford. Raya is arriving at Arsenal to provide direct competition to Ramsdale, and his reaction was really good,

Bring it on. Nothing comes easy in football. But also at the same time you need to move along and adapt as well. I’ve done it to other people when I’ve moved to clubs. I’m not going to be thinking that it’s never going to happen to me.

So, yeah, I think if it happens, it happens and then we’ll fight and we’ll make each other the best version of ourselves because that’s what the manager is telling us as well.

I’m sure whoever plays, me, Matt, whoever comes in, the goalkeeping union … and people will laugh at that but it’s a real thing … your individual disappointment will go away and you’ll put the team first and you’ll put that goalkeeper first as well.”

There will certainly be no ‘Matt’, with Arsenal making the announcement that Turner has joined Nottingham Forest and in a strange twist of fate, Turner’s debut for his new club can be as soon as this Saturday against Arsenal in a place he once called home. I trust him to invoke the spirits of previous ex-Arsenal goalies that tend to put up five-star performances when they visit the ground they once played. Bernd Leno was a thorn in our flesh when Fulham came to town last season, Emiliano Martinez has had his fair share of stormers against us, and Lukasz Fabianski has put up some blinders in the course of his West Ham career when playing Arsenal.

With Nottingham Forest still interested in signing Dean Henderson from Manchester United, Turner might not be a first-teamer after all, but at the moment, he’s clearly ahead of the injured veteran, Wayne Hennessey, and his countryman, Ethan Hovarth. We didn’t get to watch him on a consistent basis, but I wish him all the best with Nottingham Forest. Turner is well renowned for his shot stopping skills and athleticism, and like Henderson, he has a very good penalty saving record.

Coming back to Arsenal, the Raya vs. Ramsdale duel will be one for the ages because it has been a very long time since I’ve seen a club with two top goalkeeping personnel equally adept playing as No. 1s in the Premier League and Champions League. The last time I witnessed such was at Chelsea with Petr Cech and Thibaut Courtois, but the Belgian goalie left for Atletico Madrid and honed his craft to become one of the best goalkeepers in the game. On his return to Chelsea, he was deemed better than Cech, and the legendary helmet wearing goalkeeper couldn’t play second fiddle and agitated a move that saw him join Arsenal before hanging his gloves.

Both Ramsdale and Raya are excellent shot stoppers, very good with the ball at their feet, but Raya edges out Ramsdale in his command of area, but if you want to be honest, Raya’s overall stats are expected to be better than Ramsdale, with Arsenal having a better defense than Brentford.

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.

Like Ramsdale, Raya is an excellent shot stopper, contains bags of bravery and can build up from the back. 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.

Ramsdale might have usurped Leno to be the No. 1 goalie at Arsenal, but he would know that he will need to improve massively with how he deals with crosses, his distribution, his command of area and sometimes, his one-on-one duels with opposition forwards.

Arsenal is certainly going to be a huge beneficiary of having these amazing goalkeeping talents in their ranks, but the onus is on the manager to keep them competitive and happy in terms of how he features them in the course of the season. Will they share games in all four competitions or will Arteta have a dedicated goalkeeper for the Premier League, while having another for the Champions League?

Whatever happens, the team comes first and I’m very elated Arsenal has gotten over the line in signing players this summer that have improved the overall quality of the squad.


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Turner Set for Nottingham and Monaco’s Balogun Offer Rejected

Matt Turner and Folarin Balogun Arsenal exit prices explained amid  £70million-plus windfall hope - Tom Canton -

With the Community Shield and all preseason action out of the way, Arsenal is set to take on Nottingham Forest to commence their Premier League campaign, but they are unlikely to do without their reserve goalie, Matt Turner. The American shot stopper arrived from the MLS last season and featured in seven games for the Gunners last season, with two games in the FA Cup and five games in the Europa League.

With Aaron Ramsdale being an ever-present in the Premier League, Turner didn’t feature in any League game, but made himself available to be called on from the bench. As an established international player, Turner has become disillusioned with his lack of game time at Arsenal and shared his concerns during the preseason, while he was recuperating from his CONCACAF Gold Cup sojourns with the United States.

With Nottingham Forest surviving the Premier League after languishing in the relegation zone for almost the entirety of the last campaign, the veteran goalie, Keylor Navas, returned to Paris St. Germain, while the club has so far failed to reach an agreement with Manchester United for the services of Dean Henderson, leaving the veteran, Wayne Hennessey, who is currently injured and the young returnee from Luton Town, Ethan Horvath, as the recognized goalies in the squad. It has been reported that Nottingham Forest has agreed personal terms with Turner, and are confident on reaching an agreeable fee with Arsenal over his services. The Gunners, in turn, have shifted their focus to Brentford’s David Raya and negotiations are still ongoing.

Like Auston Trusty, Matt Turner is set to leave Arsenal without playing a Premier League game for the club, and he’s set to join the elite club of ex-Arsenal goalkeeping talents that will remain in the division like Lukasz Fabianski, Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez. I trust Turner to put up a goalkeeping clinic when both sides clash in the future, as I believe this game on Saturday might be too soon for him to play for his new club.

Switching over to another American, Arsenal has rejected AS Monaco’s offer for Folarin Balogun, as it is way below the club’s valuation for the wantaway forward. Arsenal also rejected advances from Inter Milan, but it’s evident that Balogun might not be an Arsenal player before the transfer window closes, despite Gabriel Jesus on the injury list.

The player himself has made his intentions clear, and Arsenal seems to respect it, but the main issue would be the price, as Balogun is a young striker in good form, so he’s expected to command a decent transfer fee for his services. We would expect more clubs to reach out to Arsenal for his services, but for the time being, he remains a Gunner.


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How Will Matt Turner’s Signing Affect Bernd Leno?

Watch: Matt Turner's first official interview after signing for Arsenal

Matt Turner making a save

The goalkeeping situation at Arsenal was a rather interesting one last season, as the Gunners invested £24m in Aaron Ramsdale to serve as a deputy to Bernd Leno. Mikel Arteta was certain that Alex Runarsson was certainly not a dependable deputy following his shaky performances in the Europa League with the final nail on his coffin being his shambolic outing against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup quarterfinal of the previous season. 

Bernd Leno started the season on the end of some bashing from Brentford, Chelsea and Man City, losing his place to the newbie, Ramsdale, and never gaining it back. Sadly, Leno had to make do with featuring in the Cup matches, limiting his appearances last season to just eight – four in the League, three in the Carabao Cup and one FA Cup game, where the Gunners shamefully lost to Nottingham Forest. 

With a year left on Leno’s deal, Arsenal are faced in that tight situation of either putting him in the market to make some quid or letting him run out his contract and leave on a free transfer. Early on in the summer, Benfica was linked with a move for Leno, which would have offered him a chance to reunite with his former Bayer Leverkusen boss, and in more recent times, the Arsenal shot stopper has been linked with a move to Premier League returnees, Fulham. 

Amid the Leno uncertainties, it was evident that Arsenal had to make plans to get a backup goalie to the former backup goalie, Ramsdale, so whispers of a move for New England Revolution towering goalie, Matt Turner, began to surface. Not much is known about the lad from a scouting perspective, but the history books tell us that he was the 2020 New England Revolution Player of the Year, courtesy of votes from players and fans alike. He amassed 111 appearances (102 MLS) in five seasons with the American outfit.

He has also been competing with Manchester City’s Zak Steffen for a starting berth in the USMNT, but it’s evident that Matt Turner is Gregg Belhalter’s preferred option in goal, as Turner has featured 18 times for USMNT, including 13 in 2021. This consistent run of games for his national team included a 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup win. 

Arsenal has announced the signing of Matt Turner from New England Revolution and have handed him the #30 jersey. As expected, Mikel Arteta and Edu had good things to say about the American and touched on his experience. He’s expected to be a deputy to Ramsdale this season and would feature in the Carabao Cup, FA Cup and Europa League.

With Turner now in our ranks, the road is paved for Leno to leave the club, and the expectation is that he’d be gone, sooner rather than later. After 125 appearances for the Gunners, it looks like its gonna be…

Sayonara Herr Leno.

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