Mikel Arteta defended his decision to replace Aaron Ramsdale with David Raya for Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Everton by predicting goalkeeping changes will become the norm, and said he “didn’t have the courage” to substitute his keeper in the past.
Raya made his first appearance for Arsenal since joining on loan from Brentford in the summer and was a virtual spectator during the visitors’ dominant display, capped by the substitute Leandro Trossard’s fine second-half winner.
Arteta described himself as “exceptionally happy” with the performance but was irked by the focus on his goalkeeper selection. The Arsenal manager insisted both Ramsdale and Raya will be utilised this season, and he regrets not changing keeper on two unnamed occasions during the team’s title challenge last season.
“It is the same rationale about why Fábio [Vieira] played here or Eddie [Nketiah] ahead of Gabriel Jesus,” Arteta said. “I haven’t had a single question on why Gabriel Jesus didn’t start. He has won more trophies than anybody else, including me, in that dressing room.
“It is something that historically is not done. I cannot have two players in each position and not play them. David has tremendous qualities, like Aaron has, like Karl [Hein] has and we have to use them.
“I am a really young manager and I have only been in the job for three and a half years and I have few regrets in what we have done. One of them is that on two occasions I felt 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 but I am able to take [off] a winger or a striker and put a central defender back and go to a back five to hold that result. And we drew those games and I was so unhappy and someone is going to do it and maybe it [the reaction] will be: ‘That is strange. Why?’ Why not? Tell me why not. You have all the qualities in another goalkeeper and you want to do something to change the momentum, do it.
“It is a regret that I have and my feeling is to get everyone engaged in the team. They have to play regardless of the competition. Do it. That is my message.”
Asked how he expected Ramsdale to react to losing his place as Arsenal’s established first-choice goalkeeper, Arteta said: “The same way as Gabriel Jesus, the same as Kai Havertz, like [Takehiro] Tomiyasu. Exactly the same. We play with 11 players, not 10 plus one or sometimes with 10 or nine. Exactly the same.”