Mikel Arteta was, inevitably, questioned about the goalkeeping situation at Arsenal ahead of this weekend’s North London derby.
David Raya was selected for the last two games, keeping two clean sheets in the process, leaving Aaron Ramsdale on the bench. Having been a fixture in the side for so long, it’s a real change for the England international, and the Arsenal boss was asked about his response to losing his place, and the fact he didn’t look pleased sitting on the sidelines.
“I understand that,” said Arteta, “and it’s very difficult with every player.
“I suffer and I care about every player that is not playing but this is the competition and this is my job as well to make decisions in the best possible way for the team.
“He’s been very supportive, he’s been really good around the place and that’s what I expect from every single player because when you are on that field there is someone else that is not.
“So it goes both ways and so far it’s been really, really good.”
Pressed on whether he was comfortable displaying a ruthlessness many feel is required to keep Arsenal competitive and to improve standards, he continued, “Comfortable? Maybe, but in your tummy when you have players sitting, or you have to announce the lineup, is one of the hardest things because you know players feel value and happy when they play and when they don’t is is very difficult.
“You want them to feel loved and to feel trusted and the way to do it is to play them, but everybody understands that is a team sport and there’s always 11 players starting.
“We have seen how important as well the ‘finishers’ are and how important everybody is going to be in the season, and if not look back at the team that have played the first six or seven start games of the season.”
It does feel like Raya will continue for Sunday, despite Arteta insisting he had yet to make his mind up about that particular selection decision. Either way, once we stuff that lot in the derby, this will be a secondary talking point.