Can Aaron Ramsdale Outshine David Raya and Reclaim His Spot? Goalkeeping Woes Haunt Chelsea and Arsenal

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With Aaron Ramsdale absent at Stamford Bridge and not in his now-familiar position on the bench, the cameras instead picked out Arsenal’s goalkeeping coach Inaki Cana Pavon.

In recent weeks Ramsdale has been the go-to guy for that timely cutaway shot when David Raya has been involved in a key incident, good or bad.

On Saturday, sights were briefly trained on Pavon — a key factor in Raya’s arrival at Arsenal as his former Brentford coach — looking for clues in his body language or facial expression, in this case, following a couple more shaky moments from his protege.

Raya was caught horribly out of position by Mykhailo Mudryk’s cross and then caused another scare by playing a pass straight to Cole Palmer, before frantically retrieving the situation.

Once more, the debate about Arsenal’s goalkeeping position was reignited.

Chelsea's Mykhailo Mudryk watches as his cross/shot drops over the head of David Raya

Chelsea’s Mykhailo Mudryk watches as his cross/shot drops over the head of David Raya

For Chelsea academy man Declan Rice was also the beneficiary of some shoddy goalkeeping

For Chelsea academy man Declan Rice was also the beneficiary of some shoddy goalkeeping

Arsenal fans made their opinions clear, chanting the name of the ruthlessly replaced Ramsdale, who missed this London derby after his girlfriend Georgina gave birth to a boy.

Fortunately for Raya, the jitters were contagious and Chelsea had their own self-inflicted goalkeeper problem which proved defining for the final result. Mauricio Pochettino’s side were in total control and on course for a hugely morale-boosting win to start a daunting run of fixtures.

Then, in the 77th minute, Robert Sanchez’s misplaced pass ran straight to Declan Rice who fired the ball first-time into an unguarded net to kick-start Arsenal’s fightback, capped by Leandro Trossard’s equaliser six minutes from time.

Events at both ends meant goalkeepers, particularly the ball-playing type, were a talking point again.

They are all the rage nowadays, to the point that a goalkeeper’s ability with his feet is one of the first things clubs ask about when looking into potential signings.

So wedded to the idea are managers that their stoppers need to be able to play with the ball as well as they save it that Pochettino admits they have to accept that mistakes come with the territory.

‘Today, we are in an era of football where with the way we want to play from the back and build from the back, we cannot say “oh” and be tough,’ he said.

‘That is football, this is the situation. Of course, mistakes can happen in football. We make mistakes, a lot of mistakes, and when the players are on the pitch they are allowed to.

Robert Sanchez has been a solid shot stopper so far, but has flattered to deceive with his feet

Robert Sanchez has been a solid shot stopper so far, but has flattered to deceive with his feet

Raya is under pressure after ousting first choice keeper Aaron Ramsdale from the team

Raya is under pressure after ousting first choice keeper Aaron Ramsdale from the team

‘I think we give the possibility to make a mistake.’

Raya’s handling of aerial balls to deal with crosses and corners is one of his standout abilities, but his ability and composure in possession were also factors in Arsenal’s decision to bring in the Spaniard to compete with Ramsdale. Even so, managing two No 1s in their own right with minimal fuss always looked a problematic situation for Mikel Arteta.

Regardless of preferences over skillset, Arteta has not helped himself with this situation having asserted that keepers are interchangeable.

Asked about changing keepers after their 1-0 win at Everton last month, for which he dropped Ramsdale, the Gunners manager said: ‘Tell me why not (to change keepers during a game)? (If) you have all the qualities in another goalkeeper to do something, you want to change the momentum, do it.’

Since then, he has pushed the same narrative when questioned about Raya’s performances.

Raya looked jittery against Manchester City before the international break, his struggles with passing from the back drawing groans from the crowd at the Emirates.

Such errors are starting to become a worrying theme and cannot be afforded.

After Saturday’s display, does Ramsdale come in when he is next available after becoming a father? The supporters have had their say, which does not make things easier for Arteta or Raya.

If he doesn’t, has Arteta’s ploy to chop and change keepers depending on circumstance already been thrown out of the window?

Whatever Arteta decides, the scenario is surely not healthy. It is an issue which looks certain to crop up again over the season, despite his attempts to downplay it.

Mikel Arteta will have a headache as he weighs up who to give the certified number one spot to

Mikel Arteta will have a headache as he weighs up who to give the certified number one spot to

MATCH FACTS

Chelsea XI: Sanchez 5.5; Gusto 7.5, Silva 8.5, Colwill 8, Cucurella 8.5; Gallagher 7.5, Caicedo 7, Fernandez 7.5; Sterling 8 (Madueke 84min), Palmer 8 (James 84), Mudryk 8 (Jackson 66, 6.5).

Subs not used: Petrovic, Maatsen, Badiashile, Disasi, Ugochukwu, Washington

Goals: Palmer 15, Mudryk 48

Booked: Palmer, Silva, Cucurells

Manager: Mauricio Pochettino 7.5

Arsenal XI: Raya 5; White 6.5, Saliba 6.5, Gabriel 6.5, Zinchenko 6 (Tomiyasu 46, 7); Odegaard 5 (Havertz 78), Jorginho 5.5 (Smith Rowe 68, 6), Rice 7.5; Saka 6, Jesus 5 (Nketiah 68, 6), Martinelli 6 (Trossard 78).

Subs not used: Hein, Kiwior, Partey, Nelson

Goals: Rice 77, Trossard 84

Booked: Zinchenko, White, Nketiah

Manager: Mikel Arteta 7.5

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

Attendance: 39,723.

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