David Raya’s Arsenal future is already clear, just hours after a 4-3 Premier League victory over Luton Town, which was clearly his most difficult match since arriving at the club.
Raya was to blame for two of the goals that the home side scored – efforts that might have jeopardised the Gunners’ Premier League title hopes. Instead, record signing Declan Rice popped up to head the winner after the allotted six minutes of stoppage time had been played in the second half.
Prior to that, the 28-year-old goalkeeper had been outjumped by Gabriel Osho for the latter to head Luton’s opener before he allowed Ross Barkley to put the hosts 3-2 up with an angle shot that he really should have stopped.
Even before Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was booked for charging down the touchline in celebration at the late winner – a caution that will see him banned from the dugout for the weekend’s clash against Aston Villa – the Spaniard would have made up his mind about the on-loan Brentford goalkeeper.
“Trust the process.”
How many times has Arteta said that since arriving at the Emirates Stadium?
And it is a mantra that the Spaniard religiously sticks by. It means that for all the hot takes and knee-jerk reactions of supporters, he believes that Raya is Arsenal’s No.1 and will stick by him for Saturday’s trip to Villa.
Given the unhappiness of Aaron Ramsdale at dropping down to the bench since September, it will, of course, add another layer of scrutiny to Raya’s performance at the weekend. The Spaniard has proven his quality in the past, though.
Raya will not be dropped yet
Last term, Raya had a goals prevented per 90 figure of 0.08. This compares to Ramsdale’s -0.12, which shows the Englishman doesn’t keep out as much as he should. This season, Raya’s figure has leapt to 0.18.
For all the criticism, Raya has largely been dependable.
Arteta knows that changing goalkeeper is one of the biggest decisions a manager can take, and while he has spoken in the past about treating this position like any outfield role, he has been notably reticent to follow through on these words. Upheaval in goal causes misunderstandings, mistakes and dropped points.
Goals prevented per 90 mins (SciSports)
|David Raya (22/23)
|David Raya (23/24)
|Aaron Ramsdale (22/23)
Instead, he leans on ‘trust the process’. He has made a call, now give it time to play out. Don’t judge it on one incident or one match. It offers a layer of security to his players, Raya most of all, that they have the manager’s faith.
As Arsenal embark on a trick December that will see them face Aston Villa, Brighton, Liverpool and West Ham in Premier League action, never has Arteta’s mantra been so important to Arsenal or their goalkeeper.