Monday, July 22, 2024

Raya on having a plan for penalties and the importance of in-game focus

David Raya has paid tribute to the goalkeeper department at Arsenal after his penalty heroics sealed Arsenal’s place in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2010. 

The Spaniard saved penalties by Porto’s Brazilian pair Wendell and Galeno and came close to keeping out a third from Marko Grujic as the Gunners ran out 4-2 winners in the shootout at the end of a tense night at Emirates Stadium. 

Raya later revealed that the club had spent all season preparing for various penalty scenarios and that he came into last night’s match with a clear plan. 

“I should have saved three,” he told CBS Sports. “I don’t think the goalie coach [Inaki Cana] will be happy with the third one that I conceded, but obviously it’s great.”

“We’ve been practising since the start of the season to be fair. We have to. Even in the Premier League you can decide [a game] on a penalty and in moments like this you have to be ready when you are asked to do it so I think all the hard work that we’ve been working in training, it paid off.”

Asked whether the direction he chose to dive was decided in the moment, he continued: “No, we had a plan of going one side or the other depending on the players. You study them. And as well with the players, they study goalkeepers nowadays. So, just credit to the GK department that it has paid off.

“Before the game obviously you see the penalties and you know which player [takes them] and you might think where he goes and you have the percentage [likelihood] and all that, so you have to [study], but I don’t want to say too much. Just follow the plan.”

Raya’s saves were all the more impressive given the authorities have clamped down on what goalkeepers can and can’t do. In years gone by, they could get away with moving off their line before opponents shot and they’d do all sorts to bad mouth kickers in an attempt to get in their head. There’s been a big clampdown on the latter since Emi Martinez pushed the boundaries in the World Cup final. 

“Now you cannot even speak to the guy that is taking the penalty,” added Raya. 

“You put pressure on them, you put pressure, try to get into their heads. It’s even harder now but you have to focus on yourself and try to give the biggest advantage that you can.”

Mikel Arteta’s decision to recruit Raya from Brentford in the summer was met with plenty of raised eyebrows, especially when the Spaniard was installed as a first team fixture at the expense of the popular Aaron Ramsdale. 

Slowly but surely, the wisdom behind the decision has come to the fore. Having come through some difficult moments, Raya now looks the more comfortable of the pair when it comes to implementing the manager’s tactics. 

Raya says the key to his game is concentration; a comment that starkly contrasts those made by Ramsdale in the past. 

“If you ask me to concentrate on a match for 90 minutes, I’m finished. I can’t do it,” said the England international in a conversation with Ian Wright. A couple of years before he also explained that he interacts with opposition fans because “it raises my concentration levels.”

On the importance of staying focused, Raya said: “You get drained after games being a goalkeeper. Maybe not leg-wise, but mentally, you have to be so focused since the first minute until the last minute. You cannot switch off for one second. 

“You see sometimes [outfield] players, they can switch off for a few minutes because they’re not involved. But keepers, you never know when you’re going to be involved. So you have to switch on and be focused on the ball. 

“Obviously your head sometimes it turns, but you have to follow the ball and try to command and try to be loud. One of my tricks is just I don’t I don’t shut up. That’s very important. Because you have to command the defence and then the defence have to command the midfield. 

“So I just don’t shut up. And sometimes even when we are taking a corner, I just have to be ready for the second balls and tell the guys about the second ball and they have to finish the action. And if the ball comes back to me, we know what we have to do. So, yeah, it drains, it drains your head.”

We can only speculate as to whether an ability to concentrate is the reason Raya has the nod over Ramsdale. One thing is clear, Arteta is very pleased with the way the former has coped with the challenges of playing for a big club like Arsenal. Just as well, as we’ve already committed to paying Brentford £27 million for his services. 

“You see in the first few days here and what he had to go through and how he did it with that composure,” Arteta said in his post-game press conference. 

“You look at his body language, and the position that he takes, he doesn’t get very affected and that’s a key quality for a goalkeeper.”

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He did brilliantly – I imagine it is very difficult to focus on penalties when you had very little to do all game.
I think the last five days have proven that Arteta was right in his decision making regarding the goal keeper position.

Johnny 4 Hats

I think we have a goalkeeper that suits our football.

Last season it was all about explosive football pumped full of adrenaline and Aaron fit that team perfectly, being aggressive and having serious intensity.

But this season the focus has been on control and domination. And the uber calm and consistent Raya is the man for this iteration of AFC.


Interesting the plan of knowing which way to go for each penalty taker was to go the same way for each penalty taker. Raya dove to his left (taker’s right) on each of the four kicks, and was only wrong once. I’m sure going through Galeno’s mind was exactly that, and Raya won that mental battle hands down! Sharp saves in the game, his usual elite ability at snuffing out anything floated or crossed into his box, and simply exceptional poise and distribution throughout. He’s really been Excellent since that one shakey game against Luton. After the Bees game and… Read more »

Pete Plum

Just to note Raya was making pretty high profile errors for quite some time, and the best save of the last 5 days was probably Ramsdales. If Rambo isn’t at Rayas level yet he isn’t far off; all I’m saying is please don’t try and sum him up by that error.


“The importance of in game focus”. That’s the biggest difference between him and Ramsdale isn’t it? Raya can maintain focus for 95 minutes better than Ramsdale. Those lapses in focus result in shocking clangers for Ramsdale and betray his top notch goalkeeping for the rest of matches. I’m very impressed with Arteta’s ruthlessness. For a manager in his first job, he doesn’t play around. Knows what he wants from every position on the team, then he buys the players that can deliver it, teaches them how to deliver it, and if they don’t show it on the pitch they are… Read more »


I hope Ramsdale stays. Let’s see how the year ends. Then he can decide if he wants to be a back up who collects Champions League winners medals, or a first choice at a team unlikely to win anything.

Johnny 4 Hats

Having a backup goalkeeper worth £40m on 120k a week would be a gross misuse of assets.

We have to sell Aaron. Karl Hein isn’t far off and I’m sure we could pick up a 33 year old on a low fee while Hein develops.


Is the £40m, 120k wage really a deal breaker for a backup? At least you are getting someone you know can perform in a pinch. Matt Turner was £10m and on 40k. I know who I prefer to see in goal. Arteta doesn’t want 11 starters, but a squad of 24 trusted players, right?


Watch out for Karl Hein. The kid is some player. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him there, but he likely needs a loan at a really competitive level next year. He is definitely knocking.

Johnny 4 Hats

An outfield squad had a great deal of malleability though – different setups, tactics, lots of injuries and suspensions. So you need Trossard’s and Jorginho’s and Kiwior’s. But Arteta has proven he likes a number 1 that plays all matches. I think you only need to look at the other top teams in the world and their backup GK’s to realise that it’s foolhardy and poor money management to tank a players value and reputation when you could take the money and reinvest in the squad. Besides, Ramsdale deserves to be playing week in, week out at a top club.… Read more »

Johnny 4 Hats

And when he does sign for Chelsea, I will personally pay for 100 pigeons to be released onto the carpet before the game. But joking aside, I really think a lot of the Ramsdale uber fandom is getting a little rose-tinted now. Were it not for Kai Havertz, Ramsdale would’ve cost us not one but two possible titles. The draw at Southampton ended our hopes last season and a draw at Brentford would’ve done the same this year. Yeah, I’m sure he’s a great guy and I’d love to have a pint with him. But I don’t think he’s good… Read more »


Ideally, I’d like us to keep Rammers for one more year, loan out Hein to mid-to-lower table type team needing a #1 in a really good competition, and then bring him in as #2 the following season and allow Rammers to move on.

Vieira's VapoRub

There is another young American goalkeeper who we’ve been linked with recently, but I would welcome back Mat Ryan (out of contract at the end of the season) — whether he’d be interested in being backup is another story. We’re expected to lose some senior figures in the dressing room over the summer so one of similar age/profile to David Raya would be welcome.

Bill Hall

Rambo is an excellent goalie who would walk into the number-one spot in nearly every team in the PL and you would be hard-pressed to find a no 2 as good as him.

If he leaves then we are back to square one where we need to find a really good backup goalie and we will struggle! Better to find a way to keep him and give him more game time. I agree Raya is the better keeper but there is very little in it!

Bill Hall

Plus he is also an excellent penalty keeper as shown in the community shield against Man City


Raya did really well and have single-handedly increased the sale of H. pies this week. 🙂
I do hope Ramsdale stay with us though, he can learn and get better for sure, and age is on his side to claim that #1 spot back at Arsenal. I do hope he gets some midweek action/ cup games next season. UCL is going to look like another mini league with the changes planned and we need a big squad with healthy rotation.
Also, I really don’t like the sheer churn we have had at GK position in the past decade. COYG!!


We probably should have just gone the extra yard and bought Raya in the first place, he was clearly the first choice.

It would have saved us all the heartbreak of falling in love with Ramsdale and then watching him get dumped.


We tried to buy him more than once


That’s sort of my point, perhaps we could have gone a bit higher and got it over the line? Everyone has their price.


We have essentially bought him, and at a time that better suits us financially. It is Arsenal’s decision to finalize the purchase. The only difference is he would have started two more games (against the bees).


he meant bought Raya instead of Rambo, a couple of years ago,


Financial fair play rules apparently hamstrung arsenal FC


Love Ramsdale, but I think I am pretty convinced that for this team and the way we try to keep possession Raya is a better choice for now. Doesn’t mean I don’t want Ramsdale to stay and push himself and Raya to even greater heights.


I have watched that last penalty (saved by Raya) an unhealthy amount of times already and I noticed a few subtle things.

He walks towards the penalty spot as Galeno places the ball, points and says something to the referee. The taker had to reposition the ball

He waits until Galeno starts to step back and mirrors his movement in walking back towards the goal.

I just felt he won the psychological battle even before the guy took the pen.

Having said that, the fans behind that goal yesterday were immense and I felt that helped a lot too.


Add to that, Galeno has watched Raya dive to his left on the three previous kicks, he’s thinking “he’s not going to do that again”…game, set, match…

A Different George

I thought that last penalty was poor–the guy telegraphed it and then didn’t come anywhere near the corner. Raya gets credit, as you say, for winning the psychological battle, but the save itself was easy. The other save, however, was world class–a good penalty that goes in about 99 time out of 100. And the one he almost saved–that would have been even better, almost “can’t be done.” But you know, two was enough–in fact, one might have been enough though, thankfully for my nerves, we didn’t have to find out.


If you’re interested, these clips made me laugh, even with Jaime Carragher!


Whoops, meant to put this on the post-game quotes thread. Ah well….


That show looks 🔥


That was actually hilarious, good to see them come out their little sanctums and just let loose a bit, even Carragher was funny

Man Manny

Yesterday was David Raya’s coronation moment as Arsenal’s undisputed number one goalkeeper…for now.
Leno and Ramsdale show us nothing is carved on granite for a hyper-ambitious Arteta.

El Mintero

So why not show the same ruthlessness with the likes of Eddie and Zinchenko? Maybe even Jesus? Eddie not at the level required, Jesus always injured and Zinchenko questionable defensive abilities AND always injured. Personally I’d keep Jesus but I’d sell the other two in a heartbeat while we still can get something for them…


In the summer I think there’ll be a big shakeup. This season is the last chance for a few players in an Arsenal shirt.

Pete Plum

So both keepers have tactics to help them concentrate


An added bonus of winning the way we did – No CL team will want to play for a draw and risk going to penalties against us.


So let me guess this correctly a goal keeper can’t move of the line talk or distract the penalty taker but the penalty taker can run, stop, run, faint, skip ,hop, have a pint , take a selfie then shoot? That seems absolutely fair

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