Our two-cents: Raya & Ramsdale
Against all odds, Aaron Ramsdale has lost his starting place at Arsenal. Aaron Ramsdale has been the starting goalkeeper for Arsenal since March 2022, his position became uncertain when Raya joined the team from Brentford a few weeks ago on a loan with the option to buy.
For the first five official games this season, Englishman Ramsdale was under the crossbar; suddenly, Mikel Arteta opted for Spaniard David Raya in Arsenal's 1-0 league game at Everton.
If you haven't read the open letter Ramsdale wrote this summer, do so quickly. You can read the article here. In the open letter, Ramsdale couldn't talk any higher of Mikel Arteta.
"When we got back, I didn’t tell many people what happened. Only my family, my teammates, and of course Mikel. He was fantastic about everything. Even in the middle of the title race, with so much pressure on the club, he asked me if I needed some time off to deal with everything. Mikel went above and beyond to make sure me and my family were OK."
The letter is important to frame the bond Arteta and Ramsdale have. It's because of this connection, that the switch from starting goalkeepers is so heavy to comprehend.
Or maybe not. In the letter, Ramsdale also explains how Arteta wants his goalkeepers to play football and participate in the game. Ramsdale is one of the best goalkeepers in the league and has a good relationship with the coach. Why would Arteta get a second world-class goalkeeper?
The coach of Arsenal explains his view on the goalkeepers: he has raised the fascinating prospect of subbing them on or off for tactical reasons, in much the same way that he would with a winger.
Exciting... but not so much as a Sorare player trying to field a team without a DNP.
We've seen it a few times before but the most memorable is The Netherlands - Costa Rica in the World Cup of 2014. Before the penalty shootout, Van Gaal subs off Jasper Cillessen and fields Tim Krul, a penalty specialist. With success, Krul saves the deciding penalty. For the first time in the history of a World Cup, a goalkeeper was changed in the closing seconds of the extra time. We haven’t really seen keepers subbed on for tactical reasons during the course of a game though. But why not?
Arteta explains his view on the matter and it makes sense in my opinion most of the time. He says that in his young career, he has had a few regrets:
“One of them… I felt that after 60 minutes and 85 minutes in two games, in this period, to change the keeper in that moment, and I didn’t do it. I didn’t have the courage to do it."
I can see a better clutch goalkeeper keeping his nets clean under pressure in the last few minutes of the game. Or a goalkeeper who's an expert in claiming crosses when the game calls for it.
The problem is on this occasion that both goalkeepers aren't that widely different in skills. Probably Raya is a bit better overall and the statistics seem to agree, but he'll have to adapt to the playing style of Arsenal and Arteta. The real question is: in what situation would Ramsdale come on the pitch in favor of Raya?
The biggest problem is the mental state of both goalkeepers. I can imagine the blow Ramsdale has felt when he sat on the bench last week. And let that psychological ability be hyper-important for goalkeepers. We've seen this last weekend at Anderlecht where there is a similar problem with Dupé and Kasper Schmeichel. Two number-one goalkeepers for one spot.
Or at Osasuna where Aitor and Herrera are constantly being rotated to much frustration of the Sorare card holders.
Although the remarks of Arteta can also be seen as a 'diversion' tactic, so your focus goes on the controversial rotation of goalkeepers with every pundit being dragged out of their cave and nursing home to provide an opinion, instead of Ramsdale losing his position. With success, it seems as if everyone who is anyone has something to say about the matter, shadowing the fact that Ramsdale lost his place.
Sorare If this tactic is successful, we could see a lot of other teams adopt it. (Just like we see teams in the Belgian second division playing De Zerbi-ball.) BELGIAN SECOND DIVISION!
Which is very bad news for us as Sorare managers. If a bunch of managers are starting to rotate or sub off their goalkeepers, the most important Sorare cards will be even harder to predict. The goalkeepers that are nailed in as a starter, will become more expensive.
The pair are no doubt top goalkeepers, and Arteta has insisted that he will be rotating between them regularly. And maybe in the future, we'll be seeing all top teams having two number-one goalkeepers instead of an old experienced goalkeeper or the young padawan.
Whatever the case, it sucks to have their Sorare cards. Arsenal will have no definitive No. 1 this season. At least till no one breaks under the stress and extra attention, and Arteta's hand will be forced to choose a number one. I would not take the risk of fielding them any time soon. If I was Ramsdale I would look to leave this winter for a team where he is the clear-and-cut number one. He deserves it and has the skill to do so.