David Raya will cost extraordinary Arsenal the Premier League title this season

Editor F365
David Raya celebrates with Arsenal man Declan Rice
David Raya celebrates with Arsenal man Declan Rice

Declan Rice and Gabriel Jesus deserve more than this Arsenal keeper, says the Mailbox. But that game was an absolute belter.

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Eight Conclusions on Luton v Arsenal
1. Declan Rice has already paid half of the £105m we spent on him

2. Kai Havertz will come good. Though, he needs to score more goals.

3. Raya may be a better passer of the boy, he is not as good as Ramsdale.

4. Arteta, just like Ten Hag has created a problem for himself where none existed.

5. Arsenal may not win the league but will be close.

6. Luton will definitely stay up. And will definitely give a lot of top teams a run for their money.

7. 5 points lead at the top means nothing in December. It is a long way to go but Arsenal are definitely going in the right direction.

8. Having seen Luton’s players work ethics, discipline and bravery on the ball, Man Utd players should be docked 4 weeks wages for the performance they put up against Newcastle in their last game. In fact, they should be made to watch this game 10 times a day for 4 weeks as punishment (highlighting every Luton players) in order for them to learn what it means to play for your manager.
Yusuf Azeez, Abuja


‘Underwhelming’ Arsenal? Really?
‘Underwhelming’ feels quite harsh. The media have been asking for this Arsenal side to click up top all season, and I think last night was arguably the best attacking performance in the league we’ve seen. Amazing what you do when your first-choice attacking five are all playing together. Each of the first three goals were the result of brilliant moves, and the Luton keeper made plenty of other decent saves along the way, particularly in the first half.

I think on balance, we did more than enough in an attacking sense to deserve to win the game. However, the control we’ve seen at the back was absent last night and that’s the main reason it was hard work. I think the (excellent, in fairness) crowd played a big part in that, and the atmosphere was a difficult one to defend against. The first was a good header, but the other two were completely avoidable and on another day we win that game 3 or 4-1 and a shrug of the shoulders.

Though I think we deserved it, it was harsh on Luton and a shout in particular for Andros Townsend and Ross Barkley. For a period of about 15-20 minutes after half-time, they were excellent and showed their experience amongst a raft of Prem rookies. Also a big fan of Rob Edwards not getting dragged into a pathetic attempt by Alan Shearer afterwards to make the ‘extra’ stoppage time a thing, admitting they took too long on some goal kicks that he could have no complaints.

It was a hilarious effort to make a story when there wasn’t one, and it reminded me of the complaints last year vs Bournemouth when I was told the ref was ‘playing until we scored’ by people who didn’t watch the game and didn’t realise Adam Smith just laid down for 90 seconds or so for a rest.

A word too for Mikel Arteta getting booked for going onto the pitch, when three steps backwards would’ve seen him in someone’s kitchen. More room in a phone box than on that touchline.

Ultimately, I hope Luton stay up – though I’m not looking forward to Arsenal going there next season one bit!
Joe, AFC, East Sussex


…Only last weekend I was saying to friends how glad I was that my team Arsenal wasn’t involved in these bonkers games a lot of top teams seemed to be getting in to, Chelsea 4-4 City, City 3-3 Spurs, Liverpool 4-3 Fulham, great spectacle but not good for the health and heart of the fan! Up to last night Arsenal had been methodical, maybe even dull, not firing on all cylinders but resolute at the back and only 3 goals conceded on our travels all season. Arteta had prioritised control, security and patience over flair, gung ho and emotion! Then last night happened and it felt very last season.

Arsenal shot themselves in the foot 3 times and had to ‘win’ the game 3 times over. The individual errors are the biggest thing stopping Arsenal really winning the title, look at all the goals Arsenal have conceded this season, lots of presents through individual errors, set pieces, or counter attacks.

READ: Arsenal are a massive climber in the ‘fun to watch’ Premier League table

Anyway, last night Jesus was fantastic, Havertz is now finding his confidence and his fantastic movement in the box is finding its rewards. Saka and Martinelli continue to be effective despite defenders impunity to going through the back of both of them constantly. Rice and Odegaard had quieter games but both were involved in the match winning moment. Rice is that clutch player, his signing takes us up a level as Van Dijk (for example) did for Liverpool. He may not take us to the title but he’s an exceptional player and leader and shows up in big moments.

Time for the ref/var moan which comes across less as sour grapes because we won, but that non penalty on the pull on Gabriel! The Luton defender has hold of Gabriel’s arm and was pulling him as he made his run, as he kept in the air to win the header, continued to pull him to the ground with both hands and was still holding his arm when he lay on the ground – the least he could have done was to keep holding it to offer him to his feet again. It is clear as day on the replay, if that isn’t a pemalty then anything goes in the box.

When you see the two penalties City got for holding v Man U and Chelsea you have to question the inability to be consistent. There is no conspiracy but humans are very much open to unconscious bias. You could hear in the commentary and punditry, and no doubt every non Arsenal fan that they were very much on the side of the underdog, this felt like a classic FA Cup tie v lower league opposition – not meant as a slight on Luton who are well worth their Prem place, but it was the tight ground, night game, the gulf in wealth of the teams, a crowd who cheers every offside decision and incessantly boo opponents who need treatment. I get it, it happens every year. But officials must block it all out, I’m not sure they can.

Shearer moaned about where the officials found the extra 25 seconds beyond the 6 minutes, well conveniently Alan you’ll have noticed that Luton took exactly 25 seconds time wasting over a throw in deep in injury time. It’s no coincidence that now that officials are finally adding on proper time at the end of the game (not just for time wasting – there were 7 subs and 3 goals in the second half) it’s the big teams who are profiting from late goals. Luton looked out on their feet at the end as Arsenal pinned them back, when the cross came in for the winner Arsenal had 7 men in the box including both centre backs and our defensive midfielder. A smash and grab late win could be fortunate but when you’ve penned the opponent in their box for 15 minutes and had 23 shots at goal it’s less fortunate and more deserved, or maybe fortune favours the brave.

Finally, refs and pundits on a crusade had got their wish, Arteta is banned for a game, his crime this time was celebrating a 97th minute winner with his staff and likely stepping outside of his technical area to do so – I definitely saw a foot on the pitch from naughty Arteta in those celebrations! Let this be the standard all managers are subjected to when celebrating any goal please, as we need to strictly police these kind of celebrations because of….umm referee respect..?…um….something about grass roots….um…crowd trouble? I’m sure there is a reason that’s more important than actually improving the standard of officiating- but I won’t hold my breath.
Rich, AFC


‘Ram’ the point home
Reading Jason Soutar’s article on Arsenal this morning
, I was struck by a line in reference to the, hitherto unmentioned, goalkeeper situation at Arsenal.

‘It is also fair to say that Raya made two mistakes and was punished, while Ramsdale made two at Brentford and was somehow not punished.’

This isn’t strictly true, is it? I don’t know about Ramsdale against Brentford off hand, but what I do know is that Raya made more than just ‘two mistakes’ last night against Luton. Rather, he was punished for two of the mistakes that he made and that IF (big if) Ramsdale ONLY committed two mistakes against Brentford, or even just committed less mistakes than Raya did against Luton then Ramsdale’s mistakes not being punished is as understandable as two goal-conceding mistakes being caused by Raya being regularly out of position and erratic throughout last night’s game.

What I do remember of the Arsenal vs Brentford game is Ramsdale having a fantastic 2nd half where he woke up, commanded his defence fairly well and saw out a difficult clean sheet, something that patently did not happen with Raya last night and has yet to happen with Raya this season.

It was a performance to forget for the keeper in a season that has yet to set off from that first save against Spurs (remember the one? Ramsdale clapped, a million memes were created). With Raya, I still firmly believe there is a worryingly significant drop in quality this year, which from the little evidence we do have, is likely by virtue of the pressure added from the step up and/or the noise created (arguably unnecessarily) by his signature.

While none of this is to say that Arsenal couldn’t have improved on Ramsdale in the summer, or done so even with the statistically better Raya. It’s more to say that as yet the possible gains, marginal or otherwise, have not paid off and Arteta’s stubbornness to continue with a mistake (a very cheap one at that in modern football terms) remains a mystery to me.

Keepering it real,
Harold Edward Hooler

P.S: Mark my words, neither will be Arsenal keeper next year and this whole debate will have been for nought anyway.

READ: Premier League keepers ranked: Raya now worse than Sheffield United goalkeeper


…Manuel Almunia
Lukasz Fabianski
Rami Shaaban
David Ospina
Richard Wright
Alex Runarsson

A list of Arsenal goalkeepers preferable to the outfielder we’re currently persisting with.

Mikel has transformed everything about the club for the better but this is his blind spot. To think he inherited Emi Martinez and Bernd Leno, then moved on Matt Turner and Mat Ryan, so we could finally land at David Raya.

The gulf in class between the Ramsdale of last season and the Raya of this season widens every week. It’s hard to understand actively downgrading such a key position.

There comes a point when actually stopped goals supersedes being able to spray a pass. How many more times do Mikel and his goalkeeping coach Inaki Cana (seemingly Raya’s best mate from their Brentford days) have to get burnt before they eat humble pie and bring back last season’s Premier League keeper of the season.

Sometimes transfers just don’t work out as planned; and that’s fine as long as you acknowledge the miscalculation and don’t blindly bury your head in the sand.
Carl, London
(Raya probably isn’t as bad as Runarsson or Ospina but neither of those could cost us a title)


Flowers for Jesus
Declan Rice is amazing and he is dominating the headlines of this game for very obvious reasons but let us not forget about Arsenal’s real MVP on the night…

Gabriel Jesus was superlative last night, crucial in two of the goals (he even scored one) and generally just doing his thing all night long! Honestly, I don’t care if Alan Shearer can’t understand why we love him so much or why he’s so good. Keep raising a confused eyebrow at his goal scoring record and he will keep on raising his eyebrows (much more stylishly) right back at you from the top of every table he could be on. If he played for your team you would understand…
Lawrence (I did the fist clenching internal scream so as not to wake the household) SA


Sexy, right?
Love a Kai Havertz finish. It’s like he’s nonchalantly nudging shut one of those soft-close drawers in the kitchen.
Martin, Peckham


Optimal Prime?
Amazon Prime are getting better at football broadcasting. It’s almost like they’ve been paying attention. Sky should definitely be following their lead. They offer the option of watching the game without commentary. Finally! Then again, I quite like Ally McCoist. Don’t always agree with his 90s footballer sensibilities, but, I’ll keep the commentary on.

Half time manager interviews, however, they can get in the bin. Stop that.
Simon, Norf London Gooner


The campaign v  Ten Hag is real
Regarding United, I watched almost twenty minutes of ex-United players criticizing the United match, after Spurs Vs City 24 hrs later on Sky. I get a need for analysis, and calling out poor performances, but this has no relevance to the City game, and is pretty unfair to fans of those teams to have to hear about yesterday’s story.

We’ve all heard managers speak ill of players publicly, and how that can affect players mentally, but what of the entire media sector doing the same, biweekly? You then get Kaveh of Sky being like “It’s really easy to Kick a club.. Ten Hag.. United when they are down..” and then proceeds to Irish dance on the club by saying the coach has lost 50% of the dressing room -based off of one source (I wonder who..).

Jamie Carragher is non stop putting out ideas that are both ridiculous and meaningless. He said “If a youth keeper was promoted and played like Onana on Wednesday evening, he would probably never feature for the first team again”.. Like, what? He’s not, he was bought for 47.5M, and he’s proven himself on the biggest stages, all players make mistakes, wtf are you saying you scouse joker? (Keep your Karius pain).

He compares Rashford with Martial because last season didn’t happen apparently, and then reminds him of a local boys responsibility (Conveniently the same week Trent scores a late winner, but he never makes such a claim when TAA made one or his two league leading mistakes leading to goals)

Sky as a whole seems to be on a mission to get Ten Hag out as best as they can, and frankly, it is pretty disrespectful. I’m yet to hear them try to get Poch sacked or Kompany and I’m not sure why they’ve become a conduit for player grievances. They simultaneously argue United players are not good enough, and don’t put effort in, while also saying that is the coach’s fault, while also arguing four United managers have failed with this group. They literally said “professional footballers” are upset they are being asked to “run too much” during training. Kaveh then signs off as he signed in: “It is easy to kick a club when they’re down” (Just to make sure we are clear what he’s doing).

How down are United? Well, apparently they were just obliterated by a devastating 1-0 loss, away to the now 2 points higher, on the up Newcastle United. A win that was literally Maguire being two inches back from a draw. I watched the game, and a draw would have been unfair for Newcastle’s efforts, but honestly, much of Newcastles “excellence” comes from their effort. Bruno G and Trippier aside, there’s not a whole lot of creativity in their side. I concede they ran United ragged with their press during the game, but all of their major chances were due to United mistakes. Trippier hit the bar – United foul. Isak from close range -ricocheted off a United defender. The goal – AWB falls asleep at the back post.

You’d like to see United do better, but losing away to Newcastle isn’t as bad or as “sackable” as Sky and the rest would have us all believe. It is more obvious what they do when you hear the same commentators commend Spurs on conceding 4 away at off form Chelsea, but criticize United for failing to come away with points from in-form Newcastle at St James’. “Newcastle got the result despite injuries…” but no ” United were a whisker from a point despite injuries..”

The media might do well with getting some alternative voices and opinions, besides the “I’m ex-United and this is what I think is going wrong..” and the ” I hate United, here’s what I think is wrong..” viewpoints you get, despite who’s playing. Too much of the commentary is reactionary and overly emotional. Too personal and partisan to be taken literally. It lacks nuance and would be far more interesting with actual analysis other than “you’ve got to run..” (Thanks Roy), “Foreign player comes in and doesn’t really care.” (Deep Jamie, very deep), “I feel like we’re in a cycle of the noise against the manager is starting to occur,” (I wonder where from Gary)

READ: Ranking Man Utd players on how likely they might be to feature among the ‘lost’ 50 per cent


…And so here we go again; the players are unhappy and leaking to the media. I’m not 100% convinced that Ten Hag is the man to turn the club around, but I am absolutely convinced that this dressing room is completely rotten and the manager needs the complete backing of the club over them. Sweep the decks, ship as many of them out as you can and hopefully scare those that remain into doing their jobs. This has been going on for too long, under too many different coaches.

We need to build around a core of young players with three or four senior heads to help them. We’re probably stuck with Onana, at least for the foreseeable, so leave him be. Shaw is arguably our best player and been consistent when fit, Bruno and Martinez have been broadly good (when fit with the latter) and actually look like they care, so they can stay. Scott McT is no world beater, but he’s a useful squad player and again, looks like he actually cares. Neither of our right backs are top class, but in the grand sweep of things, they’ll have to do for now, you can’t rebuild everything in a day. One of Lindelof and Maguire can stay as cover. The rest of the senior players? Get rid.

Varane and Casemiro look like they’re don’t want to be here; off you pop to Saudi, lads. Cas was wonderful last season, but this is what I feared we were getting ourselves into when he arrived. Varane is very expensive for a man with such limited availability.

Martial has needed binning off for years, the sulky, disinterested p***k; all the talent, none of the heart.

Amrabat: thought you must be an upgrade on Fred. You’re not. Send him back to Florence.

I’d feel sorry for Sancho if he’d done anything much of note for the club, but he hasn’t. Get him out by any means necessary.

Not sure how Donny is still here, again get him out however you can.

Mount and Antony have done the square root of sod all so far; you’ve got the rest of the season to show something or get them out too.

Finally, and most controversially, Rashford. If PSG are still interested when Mbappe goes, get him gone. The club needs to make a statement to the rest of the players and he’s the biggest sacrificial lamb we’ve got. I’ve always supported him, love having such a homegrown player in our ranks but his performances this season are inexcusable. If you’re out of form, work your bollocks off. Do all the hard running, team work elements of the game. Poor form doesn’t stop you tracking back.

From there, build around Garnacho, Hojlund, Mainoo and co and accept results and performances will be up and down for a season or two. Bring in players in their late teens and early twenties that want to prove something to augment them. Investing in youth and backing young players is what the club has done historically and the fans in the stadium will get behind them.

I’d rather watch us fail to get into Europe with a team of youngsters than watch us fail to get into Europe with Antony Martial walking around with a face like he’s just licked p*ss off a nettle.
Lewis, Busby Way


For Man Utd, read Everton
I enjoyed reading the mail from Duck regarding the 4 problems for Ratcliffe to solve. If only because it made me feel less bad about my own club Everton. Honestly, with a few tweaks, you could remove Man U and replace with Everton for most of the points!

1) Instead overspending on top players with superstar wages, Everton overspent on average/bad players on top player wages

2) No defined playing style? Yup, we went from Martinez to Allardyce in 18 months.

3) Communication from the club? Terrible. Open letters insulting fans. Promising strikers that never appeared. Unofficial, official communication via Jim White.

4) The ownership. This has been very well documented and I don’t need to, and don’t want to go into it.

As has been pointed out, Man U have the buffer of an international fan base and world leading commercial revenue to allow them to keep buying the best players. However, from what I’ve seen this season with Dyche, it doesn’t take long to get everyone aligned and to start improving. We have had many false dawns over the years, and I will certainly keep celebrating hitting 40 points every year. But it does seem that with Thelwell as director of football and Dyche as manager, for the first time in a while – the players, the recruitment, the manager, all seem to be aligned and seem to have a plan that is somewhat working.

I feel the same for Man United. Players don’t become bad players over night. There is a lot of talent in the squad. If a DOF can come in and start to thin out the wage bill, lose a few of the mediocre squad players (you can loan them to Everton). Get the squad motivated and bought in to the vision. Results can turn round very quickly. Look at Eddie Howe and how he took a relegation battling team with a few additions and got them into the Champions League.

So, what is the point of this mail, if not to just reiterate the same points? Well I disagree with 1 point. I don’t think Ten Hag is the man for this! You need a fighter, a scrapper, a motivator. You can’t have Dyche sorry, but it is clear all roads lead to 1 man. The saviour of Manchester United. David Moyes.
James EFC