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Raya is a big improvement on Ramsdale: Here’s why

David Raya joined Arsenal in August 2023, which was met with confusion by many fans.

Aaron Ramsdale had been nominated for the PFA Team of the Year the previous year and Arsenal had kept 14 clean sheets, conceding only 43 goals.

Ramsdale was seen as a crucial part of Arsenal’s resurgence last year.

The standard view amongst fans and pundits was that he was a more ‘modern’ goalkeeper who helped Mikel Arteta implement his brand of football.

However, only five months after confirming Arsenal’s return to UEFA Champions League football for the first time since 2017, Ramsdale was dropped for their first Champions League game against PSV Eindhoven.

Initially, Arteta suggested there would be rotation, but Raya has started three games on the spin – starting with his debut at Everton. Raya is now seemingly Arteta’s number one, leaving many fans perplexed.

Ultimately, Raya is an upgrade on Ramsdale in shot-stopping, ball-playing and defending crosses.

Ramsdale had a good year for Arsenal last year, but the need to improve upon him has been inevitable.

Goalkeeper Comparison

When comparing goalkeepers these are the four main areas to consider:

  • Shot stopping
  • Ball-playing
  • Sweeping
  • Dealing with crosses

Comparing Raya and Ramsdale statistically presents a few problems. Most importantly, they played for different clubs last season – who also have different styles of football.

Due to the quality of players, Brentford would often have to shift their style depending on opponents, whereas Arsenal were more consistent in their approach, being the stronger side in most games. Logically, then, Raya was naturally going to be busier than Ramsdale.

However, there are still statistics which are helpful in showing where Ramsdale struggles in comparison to David Raya.

Aaron Ramsdale is still a good Premier League goalkeeper, but he is not at the level Arsenal require. For example, Ramsdale’s shot-stopping is above average, but it is not necessarily great – post-shot expected goals minus the actual goals conceded (PSxG-GC) should give an indication of Ramsdale shot stopping.

Regarding Ramsdale, the PSxG-GC worked out to -0.05 per 90 minutes. This means that, according to fbref.com, Ramsdale conceded 1.9 more goals than he should have.

David Raya’s PSxG-GC is +0.13 per 90, which works out to early 4.94 goals saved over the course of the season.

Ramsdale has had standout shot-stopping performances – for example, Arsenal holding onto a 2-2 draw at Anfield was down to his heroics. However, he also has some high-profile errors against Southampton, Brighton and Hove Albion and Fulham. Other issues involve his ball-playing, shot-stopping and sweeping – all things that Raya is exceptional at.

All goalkeepers make mistakes, but Ramsdale’s errors are too common in a team chasing down Manchester City; he made six errors leading to goals last season – more than any other keeper.

Last year, he also stopped only 5.8% of his crosses faced (36th percentile) compared to Raya’s 8.7% (95th percentile).

Where next for Ramsdale?

For Ramsdale, his time at Arsenal could be over, unless something dramatic happens with David Raya.

However, he will have suitors in the Premier League and potentially in Europe. His best choice in England could be a club like Newcastle United, as they look to make a similar step to Arteta’s Arsenal. A goalkeeper like Ramsdale is more suited to an expansive game than Nick Pope.

Aston Villa or Brighton are also clubs on the up that could use his services.

Overall, Ramsdale could offer an upgrade for a large chunk of the league or the option for teams to change their style of play. He is only 25 and, therefore has room to grow beyond what he has during the last two years at Arsenal.

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