Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta felt compelled to protect the goalkeeper David Raya After the Gunners ended their 12-game losing streak to beat the Premier League champions 1-0 against Manchester City on Sunday. “I think he was great,” Arteta said. “The way he controlled the ball, how dominant he was and how high he played. I love brave players.”
Arteta has made a big call on the Brentford loanee this season, opting to replace former no. 1 Aaron Ramsdell — a significant figure in Arsenal’s title challenge last term — favors a different kind of player. Raya is the ultimate modern goalkeeper: comfortable with the ball at his feet and able to add a new attacking dimension to the team.
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Manchester United manager Erik ten Haag is trying to make a similar change Andre Onana Coming in from Inter Milan to replace him David de Gea This summer. But goalkeepers at Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League have transformed when the ball is played — Ederson And Alison Baker were crucial to their respective clubs’ success — turning from a traditional ‘keeper into a more rounded footballer in terms of goals is not a quick fix. Both Raya and Onana have already found themselves in their new clubs by storm.
In the game against City, former Manchester United defender Gary Neville described Raya as a “nervous wreck” while commentating the game for Sky Sports. Meanwhile, Arsenal fans inside the stadium turned up the volume every time the ‘keeper had the ball at his feet, shouting “Get rid of it,” “What are you doing?” and several expletive-laden expressions of alarm.
After almost conceding a goal in the first half when his clearance was blocked by a presser Julian Alvarez Inside the six-yard box, Raya set the tone for a difficult afternoon where his presence in the Arsenal goal, ahead of fan favorite Ramsdale, was once again a major talking point.
With 19 goals in 10 games so far, Onaner’s start to United’s career carries the same level of scrutiny. Not only because the Cameroon international made a number of high-profile mistakes leading up to the goal, but also because he replaces De Gea who, despite a flawed final season at Old Trafford last year, is being considered. The affection of many United supporters following his departure at the end of his contract in June.
Both Raya and Onana are highly rated goalkeepers. Raya has been the most consistent in the Premier League over the past two seasons for Brentford; Onana enjoyed success at Ajax and Inter before identifying De Gea as ten Haag’s replacement.
Crucially, Raya and Onana have the unwavering support of their managers, with both Arteta and Ten Haag wanting a goalkeeper who can give their team more control on the ball. Instead, this means they can set up to defend higher up the pitch and look to the goalkeeper to beat the opposition’s attacking press by delivering specific points from long and short passes.
It’s an ideal scenario, one that both Ederson and Alisson have provided for their clubs, but even these two have had their downfalls, when they were overconfident on the ball or too eager to race out of the penalty area. An attack out.
When Pep Guardiola took over at City in the summer of 2016, his first decision was to replace the title-winning goalkeeper. Joe Hart, who was England’s no. 1 with Barcelona Claudio Bravo. Guardiola wanted to oversee the same transition that Arteta and Ten Hague are now attempting, but City were not ready for change. By making risky passes into dangerous areas or causing confusion by positioning himself in the defensive third, Bravo often exposes the deficiencies of the defense by causing problems for his teammates.
Now, City defenders feel completely comfortable with Ederson doing something similar as Guardiola has built a squad of players who can play with the goalkeeper on the ball. And they have over seven years of practice with one such person behind them.
Raya only arrived at the Emirates in mid-August and didn’t make his debut until mid-September, so the keeper and his defenders had little chance to get to know each other. And it shows. Arsenal have defenders who are good enough on the ball to adjust to keeping Raya behind them instead of Ramsdale, but it will take time.
Onana has a different problem at United in that most of his defenders are not comfortable on the ball. When Onana likes Aaron One-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Diogo Dalot or Victor Lindelof, he is giving the ball to players who don’t want to receive it in the defensive third of the pitch. With De Gea in goal for the past decade, United’s players have grown accustomed to a keeper who rarely leaves his penalty area, so Onana’s confidence to rush out is another factor they must take into account.
The secret to goalkeeping success in ball games is having defenders who are extremely confident and comfortable on the ball. Arsenal have players to make it work; United do not argue. But the reality for both teams, and any other club that wants to try it, is that it takes more effort than just the goalkeeper to reap the rewards.