Former Arsenal number one Bernd Leno has hit out at Gunners boss Mikel Arteta and the way he uses goalkeepers after making the decision to replace Aaron Ramsdale with David Raya.
Despite Ramsdale enjoying a stellar 2022/23 that saw him named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year, Arsenal signed David Raya on an initial loan from Brentford during the summer.
Ramsdale initially kept his place but was dropped after the international break and has been on the bench for the last two games against Everton and PSV Eindhoven in the Premier League and Champions League respectively. Raya also started again in Sunday’s north London derby.
Leno was replaced by Ramsdale in similar circumstances two years ago and has now said he feels sorry for his former Gunners teammate.
“There were a couple of excuses I didn’t understand and I have to say, unfortunately, it’s more or less the same with Ramsdale. It has happened [again] after the international break. I know how [Aaron] feels, there are some similarities,” Leno told The Times.
During his short managerial career to date, Arteta has developed a reputation for trying to put fresh takes on certain situations. He has previously wanted to rename substitutes as “impactors” to boost morale among players not named in the starting XI.
Last week, Arteta spoke about the possibility of substituting a goalkeeper like he would any other position on the pitch if the in-game circumstances or tactics called for it.
Leno firmly disagrees with the idea: “Our position is too passive. As a winger you can have an impact in the game because you get on the ball but as the keeper usually you just react.
“I experienced a substitution just the one time in my career when Petr Cech got injured and I was lucky it was half-time, but if you come on at minute 60 and you have been sitting on the bench, you are not in the flow, that’s very tough. I’m looking forward to seeing if he [Arteta] will do that in a game or if he just said that, but I don’t think many [managers] would do that.
“Goalkeeper is a special position and should be treated as special, I think. Because you need consistency. A good example was when I first came to Arsenal, I played in the Premier League and Cech played in the Europa League and the cup games and I spoke to the defenders and they said they don’t feel comfortable with that, with different keepers and different characteristics.”
Leno added that the need to build a “relationship” between defenders and a regular goalkeeper supersedes the idea that a manager could choose a goalie for a given game depending on whether they expect to have lots of possession or face lots of crosses.
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