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Home   /   Raya v Ramsdale: who should be Arsenal’s number one?

In a bid to rectify their failed title pursuit last season, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has ruthlessly replaced Aaron Ramsdale for former Brentford goalkeeper David Raya. Joshua Risebro reports.

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This decision has sparked controversy among the Arsenal fanbase, not least because Ramsdale was only three clean sheets away from winning the 2022/23 Golden Glove.

The former Bournemouth goalkeeper played all 38 league games for a team that had finished within five points of the treble winners having led the Premier League table for 93% of the campaign. Given his telling contribution for Arsenal’s first title challenge in well over a decade, football fans can be forgiven for questioning Arteta’s judgement.

Considering this controversy, Overtime decided to investigate why Arteta may have come to this decision. External factors such as tension between the two men will not be explored. Rather, data and statistics will be analysed between Ramsdale and Raya from last season to help conclude who the better goalkeeper will be for Arteta’s tactical system.

The obvious statistic to observe will be the number of clean sheets both goalkeepers accumulated last season. Ramsdale amassed 14 clean sheets last season, three away from Golden Glove winner David De Gea. Raya trails behind with 12. Both goalkeepers played all 38 games for their respective team’s last season. Ramsdale’s clean sheet percentage was 36% while Raya’s was 31%, suggesting Ramsdale was the more secure goalkeeper last season. However, what must be considered is the team’s both goalkeepers played for. Arsenal finished last season on 84 points in second place whilst Brentford finished ninth on 59 points, indicating that there is a big gap in quality between the two teams. By this metric, Ramsdale would be expected to accumulate more clean sheets than Raya as he played for a better team.

For the ‘Team Play’ category, Raya overcomes Ramsdale. Raya completed 1,475 passes, trumping Ramsdale’s 934. Due to this, Raya completed 38.82 passes per match, compared to Ramsdale’s inferior 24.58 passes per match. Ramsdale completed 138 long balls throughout the season, contrasting with Raya’s 410. Given Arteta’s style of play involves building up from the back from the goalkeeper onwards, it would be logical that he would pursue a goalkeeper who is more effective at passing out from the backline.

Despite Raya playing for a weaker side, he only conceded three more goals than Ramsdale, conceding 46 goals as opposed to Ramsdale’s 43. Ramsdale made two errors leading to a goal compared to Raya’s single error, whilst Raya conceded an own goal which Ramsdale did not do. These statistics suggest that these two goalkeepers possess similar quality.

Due to the quality of the teams both goalkeepers played for, Raya’s goalkeeping stats are of a larger quantity than Ramsdale’s, demonstrating that Raya was the busier of the two goalkeepers’ last season. For example, Raya made more saves, high claims, catches, sweeper clearances and throw outs than Ramsdale.

It is worth noting that Raya was Arteta’s first choice to replace Emiliano Martinez after Arsenal sold him in 2020, but Brentford were unwilling to sell. This would explain why Arteta has immediately made Raya first choice since his arrival in 2023.

Data and statistics courtesy of Premier League website

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May 2024