Paul Merson says Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has piled the pressure on himself and his goalkeepers with his decision to pick David Raya over Aaron Ramsdale.
After displacing Ramsdale in the starting line-up, Raya, who joined the Gunners on loan in the summer from Brentford, has come under the spotlight after errors in the defeat to Lens in the Champions League, the win against Man City and also the 2-2 draw with Chelsea on Saturday.
It has led to plenty of debate with Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville suggesting Raya looks like a goalkeeper under pressure, while Jamie Redknapp believes Arteta has “complicated a situation he didn’t need to” in replacing Ramsdale, who has returned to training ahead of Arsenal’s Champions League clash with Sevilla on Tuesday after the birth of his son.
Can Raya handle the pressure at Arsenal? Who will start against Sevilla? Does Ramsdale have a future with the Gunners? Merson has now had his say on the goalkeeping situation at Arsenal.
Read on for the Magic Man’s thoughts in full.
‘Arteta has put himself and Raya under pressure’
I’m a great believer in not fixing something that isn’t broken.
With his handling of the goalkeeper situation, Mikel Arteta has put everyone under severe pressure.
He’s put himself under pressure and he’s put David Raya under pressure.
That was another major, major mistake at Stamford Bridge.
‘Raya is struggling with the pressure at Arsenal’
It’s different for a goalkeeper at a top club.
The pressure is well and truly on when you play for a big club like Arsenal week in, week out. Everything you do is put under the microscope.
On the other hand, at a club like Brentford there’s very much the mentality of you win a game and you lose a game.
At big clubs everything is magnified, and Arsenal is a big club.
‘He’s behind the eight-ball and may struggle to get out of this dip’
Raya is a good goalkeeper, but he’s fallen behind the eight ball.
He’s going to find it hard to get out of this dip in performance, especially with everything he does being analysed.
Arteta will have looked at all the stats and Raya’s stats are good.
However, it’s why all the players that are picked for England are at the top sides.
You see it all the time when people make a case for a player playing at a team lower down the league, but that’s why Gareth Southgate sticks with players at the top teams. They play under severe pressure every week.
Could Ramsdale return?
It’s going to be hard for Ramsdale to get back in.
Arteta is not going to change goalkeepers now. I can see him doubling down on this because if he leaves Raya out, he’s then got him and Kai Havertz – two big summer signings – sitting on the bench not doing anything.
It then doesn’t look good on Arteta. That’s why I see him trying to see this out and helping Raya get through this.
Where’s Ramsdale going to go? As a goalkeeper there aren’t loads of opportunities there. That’s a problem for Ramsdale.
But I can’t see him getting his place back with Arsenal. Arteta will try to ride this out, especially with the games against Sevilla and Sheffield United coming up. They are games the Gunners should win and he will hope Raya can build some confidence.
However, things could change quickly. A couple more mistakes and Arsenal will be out of the title race.
Follow Arsenal’s Champions League clash with Sevilla across Sky Sports’ digital platforms from 6.30pm Tuesday; kick-off 8pm.