David Raya -  Revolutionising Arsenal's Play with Exceptional Distribution

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David Raya - Revolutionising Arsenal's Play with Exceptional Distribution

David Raya's Journey to the top 

David Raya joined Brentford in July 2019 from Blackburn Rovers. Raya, a Spanish goalkeeper, signed a four-year deal with Brentford. His move to Brentford marked a significant step in his career, transitioning to a new club that were competing in the Championship.

During his time at Brentford, Raya became a key player for the team, known for his shot-stopping abilities and distribution skills. Notably, he played a crucial role in Brentford's journey to the Championship Play-Off Final in the 2020-2021 season, where they secured promotion to the Premier League by defeating Swansea City.

Raya's performances garnered attention, and he earned praise for his consistency and contributions to Brentford's defensive solidity. His journey with Brentford showcased his growth as a goalkeeper and contributed to the team's success. He was linked to a move to Arsenal over a number of transfer windows and finally moved in the summer of 2023 initially on a loan move which was made permanent in January 2024

How the Role of the Goalkeeper has changed over the last decade

Over the last decade, the role of a goalkeeper in football has undergone notable changes, reflecting evolving tactical trends and the increasing emphasis on playing out from the back. 
They are now expected to be proficient with their feet and play an active role in building up play from the back. The concept of the sweeper-keeper has gained prominence, with goalkeepers frequently venturing outside their penalty area to act as an additional field player.

The in turn means modern keepers are required to have excellent passing accuracy, enabling teams to maintain possession and initiate attacks from deep positions. Goalkeepers are often involved in short, quick passes as part of the team's build-up play.

Goalkeepers that kicked the ball long 99% of the time are a thing of the past. They are now expected to display ball control and composure under pressure. This includes receiving back-passes and making split-second decisions to pass short and play out of a pressing situation.

While the emphasis on distribution and playing out from the back has increased, shot-stopping remains a fundamental aspect of a goalkeeper's role. Making critical saves is still essential for keeping a team competitive.

In summary, the role of goalkeepers has evolved to incorporate a more expansive skill set, blending traditional shot-stopping abilities with enhanced distribution and involvement in the team's build-up play. This evolution reflects the broader shift in football towards possession-based strategies and a more holistic approach to team play.

David Raya's Arrival at Arsenal 

David Raya's arrival was seen as a strange piece of business as they had Aaron Ramsdale who had a a good few seasons after being brought from Bournemouth a few years prior. Ramsdale took Arsenals ball playing from the back to a new level from Leno. However the Manager Mikel Arteta believed the club needed a change.

Raya come in and wasn't promised the no.1 shirt however after a few games it was clear he was Arteta's new No.1

Since then he has played 25 times in the Premier league and Champions league, keeping 11 clean sheets and only conceding 21 goals in that time. 

He has been key in a number of goals arsenal have scored this season from his quick distribution. 


David Raya -  Stats this season so far

David Raya stats


How David Raya had has a Tactical Impact on Arsenal

Arsenal have become masters of playing out from the back and utilising their keeper - David Raya. Mikel Arteta relies on his players to all be confident with the ball at their feet and with their Gloves on. He sees the goalkeeper as an extra player to enable his team and players to frequent different positions due to the overload. 

Raya's ability to play accurate long and short passes aids Arteta's team. The opposition is always caught in a catch 22 not knowing if Raya will play the ball short or directly over the top. This small detail has enabled Arsenal to be a new monster this year. 

His start in the team isn't just down to his ball striking ability, he is also leading the way with balls claimed from crosses in the premier league and also is super quick on the transition from a save to distributing. This again enables Arsenal to be a huge force. 

Arsenal have scored the second most goals in the premier league this year and have conceded the least. A sure sign of the qualities of David Raya 

David Raya v Aaron Ramsdale 

David Raya v Aaron Ramsdale Stats

The ongoing debate in this matter often centers on the question of who is the better goalkeeper. However, I believe the focus should shift towards analysing the impact of their performances in relation to the team dynamics. It's crucial to consider how Raya's composed demeanor contrasts with Ramsdale's enthusiastic approach and the influence it has on the team.

Some are down to the reasons can be linked back to some cold hard stats: 

Aaron Ramsdale long passes
David Raya Long Passes Graph

Arteta is the primary voice in this discussion, shaping the narrative from the beginning. Given Arteta's meticulous nature as a manager, the fine margins play a significant role in determining success in the Premier League. However, the recent emphasis on Ramsdale seems to unfairly attribute Arsenal's late-season struggles solely to him.

Shot to Save %

One notable distinction between the two goalkeepers lies in their composure. Raya exudes calmness and maintains a more consistent performance level, with a less pronounced gap between his best and worst displays compared to the occasionally animated and excitable Ramsdale. Ramsdale has openly acknowledged occasional concentration struggles for the full 90 minutes, and the surrounding tumult in his club or country situation may further impact his preparation and decision-making during games.

I don't personally think there is much between them, but its a game of opinions!

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