Arteta ready to tactically substitute his goalkeepers
Written by Simon Austin — September 18, 2023
ARSENAL manager Mikel Arteta has raised the prospect of making tactical substitutions using his goalkeepers this season.
The Spaniard surprised many when he brought in David Raya to start the 1-0 win over Everton at Goodison on Saturday.
Raya was signed on loan from Brentford this summer with the option of the move becoming permanent at the end of the season. Many had assumed he would compete with Aaron Ramsdale for the number one jersey - or that the duo would be rotated during the course of a busy season in which Arsenal are back in the Champions League.
However, Arteta has raised the fascinating prospect of switching them within a game for tactical reasons, in much the same way that he would with an outfield player.
“I am a really young manager - I have only three-and-a-half years in the job and I have few regrets from what I have done,” Arteta said after Saturday’s win.
“One of them… I felt that 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 a winger or a striker and put a central defender back and go to a back five to hold a result. And we draw those games. And I was so unhappy.
“Someone is going to do it and maybe it’s, ‘Uh, that’s strange.’ Why? Why not. Tell me why not. You have all the qualities in another goalkeeper to do something; something is happening and we want to change momentum, do it.”
We have seen goalkeepers substituted ahead of penalty shoot-outs, with a specialist coming off the bench ready for the shoot-out. We haven’t really seen keepers subbed on for tactical reasons during the course of a game though. But why not?
After all, goalkeepers have different characteristics, in the same way that centre forwards or centre halves do. This applies both in and out of possession, meaning they can bring different things at different stages of a match.
The profiles of Raya and Ramsdale are not wildly different, as this piece explains, although Goalkeeper Coach David Coles would give Raya a slight edge in terms of passing range and gathering crosses. Coles told TGG that goalkeepers were becoming more and more important both in and out of possession.
“We’re used to goalkeepers beating the press and launching attacks,” said Cole, who has worked for Southampton, Portsmouth, Bristol City and England’s youth teams. “Jordan Pickford, for example, is very good at hitting the ball in behind people.
“A main ingredient for a goalkeeper now is being two-footed. David Raya is very two footed, which increases his ability to manoeuvre away from the opposition when he has the ball and opening up different passing angles.
“He is also really good on crosses - especially when you consider his size (he is 6ft tall). His agility and timing in terms of attacking the ball are outstanding. Aaron is a very good goalkeeper tactically and technically too though.
“His shot stopping has improved and so has his distribution. And he’s thick skinned. I know his coach with England, Martyn Margetson, is very strong on working on that psychological corner.”
Coles said he could understand what Arteta was trying to do, although he was not a fan of the idea himself.
"I believe in having a number one goalkeeper and building up confidence and continuity," he said. "You'd also have to make sure your keeper was fully acclimatised and alert when they came on to the pitch as well, because it isn't like the other positions on the pitch.
"David James, who I worked with for England, using to do 30 minutes of visualisation even before he went out for the warm-up."