Mikel Arteta admitted dropping Aaron Ramsdale left an uncomfortable feeling ‘in his tummy’, and has yet to decide who will start in the Arsenal goal against Tottenham on Sunday.
The goalkeeping saga began last weekend after David Raya made his debut in the 1-0 victory over Everton – Ramsdale had started every Premier League game in goal since March 2022.
The Spaniard then made his Champions League debut on Wednesday, keeping a second consecutive clean sheet in the 4-0 thrashing of PSV.
Arteta said: ‘It is very difficult with every player. And I suffer and I care about every player who is not playing, but this is the competition and this is my job to make decisions in the best possible way for the team.
‘In your tummy when you have players sitting (out) and you have to announce the line-up, it is one of the hardest things.
Mikel Arteta has admitted that the decision to drop Aaron Ramsdale in favour of David Raya was not easy
Former Brentford ‘keeper Raya has kept back-to-back clean sheets after taking the place of England international Ramsdale
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‘Players feel valued and happy when they play. And when they don’t, it is very difficult. You want them to feel loved and trusted, and the way to do it is to play them. But everybody understands it is a team sport and it is always 11 players starting.’
Arteta came under fire from Bernd Leno, the player Ramsdale squeezed out under Arteta three games after joining in 2021, who attacked the Spaniard’s ‘very strange’ idea to use goalkeepers as normal substitutes.
‘I would feel very strange and very surprised if I would see the No 17 was coming off in minute 75,” Fulham’s Leno told the Times.
‘Everyone in the stadium would be surprised. It doesn’t matter if it’s myself or Alisson at Liverpool, it doesn’t make sense. The keeper coming on would feel even worse than me, coming on and not warmed up with no contact with the ball and no feeling for the distances. If the manager asks me, I would say, “Don’t do that”.’
Arsenal received a boost ahead of tomorrow’s derby with captain Martin Odegaard signing a five-year deal to become the club’s highest earner.
Former Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno has described Arteta’s idea to substitute the man between the sticks as ‘very strange’
The Arsenal boss has been handed a boost with captain Martin Odegaard agreeing a new five-year deal
The derby is always a heated rivalry between the two clubs, and Arteta is ready to warn players about its enormity – if they are not already aware.
‘They do (understand it)’ he said. ‘If they haven’t understood yet, I will explain very quickly what it means.
‘It’s simple to do that and they will realise the moment we get around the Emirates on Sunday afternoon and they see the atmosphere and the vibe around it. They will realise quickly what is coming.
‘You walk down the street and there is a feeling there.’