Mikel Arteta handed David Raya his Arsenal debut against Everton on Sunday.

David Raya joined Arsenal on an initial-loan deal from Brentford this summer. However, the Spanish shot-stopper’s switch to the Emirates Stadium is expected to be made permanent for a fee of £27 million.

Raya has been brought in to compete with Aaron Ramsdale for the Arsenal starting berth. It could be that Mikel Arteta has now decided to make Raya his No. 1, given his inclusion at Goodison Park.

However, it would be unwise to rush to such a conclusion. The Spanish coach has suggested that he is planning to rotate his goalkeepers regularly throughout the campaign, as he would with outfield players.

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This would represent a significant break from tradition. Clubs conventionally have a settled first-choice goalkeeper, with a back-up option rotated in for some cup clashes and covering in the case of injury.

It seems, though, that Arteta wants to shake things up in this regard. It seems likely that he is planning to select his goalkeeper on a game-by-game basis, exploiting Raya and Ramsdale’s individual strengths against specific opponents. 

This may even mean that Arteta will look to change his goalkeeper within matches themselves.

Everton FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Arteta looking for something new

Speaking after the match, as quoted by the official Arsenal website, Arteta said, “I am a really young manager…and I have few regrets. It was on two occasions, that after 60 minutes and at 85 minutes in two games in this period I could have changed the keeper in that moment, and I didn’t do it. I didn’t have the courage to do it…We drew those games and I was so unhappy.”

“Someone is going to do it, and it’ll be strange and you’ll ask why, but tell me why not? If you have all the qualities in another goalkeeper to do something, or if something is happening and you want to change the momentum, then do it.”

“Now my feeling is to get everybody engaged in the team that they have to play, regardless of the competition – this is my message.”

Ramsdale has been impressive for the Gunners since his £30 million arrival from Sheffield United in 2021. However, he isn’t as capable on the ball as Raya. The twice-capped Spain international demonstrated his excellent distribution against Everton. 

Arsenal now have two top class ‘keepers on their books. Rather than allowing one to rot on the bench, Arteta is clearly keen to utilise both of them. With the Gunners hoping to compete seriously in all competitions this season, there ought to be plenty of playing opportunities to divide between the two.

However, there is still a chance that the players themselves will become unhappy with this situation, or that one of them simply nails down the position as his own. Arteta is certainly taking a risk with this innovative ploy, but the potential rewards are obvious, and the most successful coaches are the ones that push boundaries and find new solutions. 

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