On Wednesday night, Arsenal will play French team RC Lens with the goal of winning Group B qualification for the Champions League. The Gunners enter the European match fresh off a thrilling 1-0 victory against Brentford on the road the previous weekend.
Following Saturday’s full-time whistle, Aaron Ramsdale’s name was echoing loudly throughout Brentford Community Stadium, especially in support and encouragement of last season’s first pick, who, as Football.London noted, put up an unfortunate 4/10 performance.
Luckily for the goalie, as Arsenal surged to the top of the Premier League, a few times his teammates came to his rescue.
The stats for Aaron Ramsdale this year
Although Ramsdale is renowned for having a “big personality,” as Roy Keane famously remarked, his confidence has suffered greatly since David Raya entered the team to replace him.
The England international tried to take advantage of the fact that Arsenal was playing Raya’s parent team this past weekend, but his lack of confidence was on display in the first half of Arsenal’s match against Brentford, when the number one made a disastrous error that allowed Yoane Wissa to score inside the six-yard box.
Bryan Mbeumo was set up by the Brentford striker, but Declan Rice blocked his shot, which could have resulted in a goal with the XG of the subsequent opportunities totaling 0.51.
Ramsdale misthrew the ball into the end zone just before halftime, and it ended up at the foot of a Brentford striker. Although the onslaught was ineffective, the goalie’s confidence was further damaged.
With just six correct long balls completed out of 21 tries, the 26-year-old’s pass accuracy was only 50%, which is appalling for a custodian in an Arsenal team that possesses such excellent control and technical skill.
Regrettably, during his five Premier League games this season, this has been a recurring issue. Ramsdale’s greatest vulnerability is evident when the ball is at his feet, as evidenced by his 2023–24 Premier League statistics on FBref. With only 2.6 long balls completed and 26.6 passes attempted per ninety, the Arsenal keeper is among the poorest goalkeepers in Europe, ranking 34% and 7%, respectively.
Raya is the leading shot-blocker for Arteta.
When it comes to Raya, his greatest asset is his possession game, which is where Ramsdale lacks strength.
His 42.9% completion rate while playing long balls is quite outstanding. This gives Raya not just a great deal more control but also suggests that he can initiate assaults by being more aggressive and taking more chances with the ball.
Additionally, the number 22 commands attention in the box and instills confidence in the backline, especially from set pieces.
He ranks in the top 2% of goalkeepers in the division for the FBref cross-dealing measure, indicating that he is among the best in the Premier League. With 5.5 throws attempted per game, he is also keen to distribute the ball fast to initiate a transition once the ball has been seized. This will be especially crucial on Wednesday because in three of their last four Ligue 1 games, Lens has scored from a cross.
In addition, Raya has kept four clean sheets in eight Premier League outings since taking over for Ramsdale in goal, one less than Andre Onana, Sam Johnstone, and Nick Pope, while playing five less games.
Because of how dominant the Gunners are, the Spaniard has the lowest save average in the league (only 1.5), but he is also a confident stopper, as evidenced by the four stops he made in Arsenal’s most recent home game, a 3-1 victory over Burnley.
Raya outperforms Ramsdale even simply statistically, and Mikel Arteta and the goalkeeping staff will still lean towards the 28-year-old on Wednesday.