Arteta: Ramsdale snub one of ‘hardest things’

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Mikel Arteta has praised Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale‘s reaction to being dropped and admitted he struggled with the decision to replace him with David Raya.

Arsenal made a surprise move at the end of last month to sign Raya from Brentford on an initial season-long loan with an option to make the move permanent despite Ramsdale thriving as the club’s goalkeeper to the extent he was rewarded with a new long-term contract in May.

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Raya has started both matches for Arsenal since the international break — against Everton last weekend and the midweek Champions League win over PSV Eindhoven — keeping a clean sheet on each occasion.

Arteta said he has not yet decided who will start Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham and when asked whether he was comfortable with leaving Ramsdale out, he said: “Maybe I look [it] but in your tummy when you have players sitting and you have to announce the line-up, it is one of the hardest things.

“Players feel valued and happy when they play. And when they don’t it is very difficult. You want them to feel loved and trusted and the way to do it is to play them. But everybody understands it is a team sport and it is always 11 players starting.

“But we have seen how important as well the finishers are, and how important everybody is going to be in the season and not look back at the team that have played the first six or seven games of the season.

“It is very difficult with every player. And I suffer and I care about every player who is not playing but this is the competition and this is my job to make decisions in the best possible way for the team.

“He has been very supportive and really good around the place and that is what I expect from every single player as when you are on the field, there is someone else who is not. So it goes both ways. So far he has been really, really good.”

Arteta compared Ramsdale’s situation with Emile Smith Rowe, who enjoyed rapturous applause from the Emirates Stadium as a second-half substitute against PSV after finding himself on the periphery of the first team this season.

“Aaron is an exceptional character, he has got this charisma and this aura around him, and we all know that and I fully understand that,” Arteta added. “It happens with many other players, you see the reception Emile got the other night and it’s sending a message that we really like him and I really like him, and we have to deal with that.”

Arteta also reflected on Harry Kane‘s departure from Tottenham after the 30-year-old joined Bayern Munich in a €120million ($128m) deal this summer.

Kane is the all-time top goalscorer in north London derbies, netting 14 times in 19 games, and asked whether it was a relief not to be facing the England captain, Arteta replied: “We tend to forget quickly! We just focus on the team that they have and what we have to do to play the best possible way to create problems to them.

“He was obviously a special player and everything went through him. He was the one that glided everything together. They did it in many different ways from many different areas of the pitch.

“Now it’s a bit different. They have a different style from the last two coaches as well. They, for sure, have some specificity in certain moments that they make with certain players so I think it’s a very different team.”

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