MIKEL ARTETA’s ruthlessness is the reason why Arsenal have gone from pretenders to contenders – so Gunners fans should stop whinging about his dropping of Aaron Ramsdale.
The decision to give new stopper David Raya the opportunity to prove himself worthy of being the club’s No.1 is being fiercely debated by the Emirates faithful.
GETTYAaron Ramsdale has found himself warming the bench after being dropped by Mikel Arteta[/caption]
ReutersRamsdale has played second-fiddle to David Raya for Arsenal’s last two matches[/caption]
ALAMYArteta has been criticised for giving Raya the chance to prove himself worthy[/caption]
ALAMYThe Spaniard hasn’t shied away from making difficult decisions during his reign[/caption]
Some fans are calling the axing of Ramsdale – who has been flawless this season – “unfair”, “uncalled for” and even downright “disrespectful”.
But it’s neither of those things – it’s the reminder Ramsdale needed that he’s at one of the biggest teams in the world cannot rest on his laurels.
The decision wasn’t an easy one Arteta, who today admitted: “I suffer and I care about every player who is not playing.
“But this is the competition and this is my job to make decisions in the best possible way for the team.
“In your tummy when you have players sitting [out] and you have to announce the line-up, it is one of the hardest things.”
Harsh it may have been, but no successful manager has ever got anywhere by putting a player’s feelings first.
And neither has Arteta, whose cut-throat approach in recent years has transformed Arsenal on and off the pitch.
It started with his axing of former team-mate and beloved fan favourite Mesut Ozil, which, in hindsight, was a sign of things to come.
REUTERSMikel Arteta first showcased his ruthless side by getting rid of former team-mate Mesut Ozil[/caption]
RICHARD PELHAMStrikers Lacazette and Aubameyang were both binned by Arteta due to their poor displays[/caption]
Ozil – the Gunners’ former club-record signing – wasn’t training or playing to Arteta’s liking and felt the full force of the Spaniard’s axe in late 2020.
The public exile and eventual termination of Ozil’s contract was hotly debated at the time given the German’s creative talent and saw many fans question Arteta’s decision-making.
But Arteta stuck to guns and, eventually, managed to replace the fan-favourite’s penchant for creativity.
The once-beloved duo were cast aside – with Lacazette’s contract running out and Aubameyang’s being terminated – as soon as they weren’t performing to the Spaniard’s high standards.
Nicolas Pepe, another former club record signing, also had his lucrative contract ripped up after failing to deliver enough for Arteta – despite scoring 27 goals and racking up 27 assists in 112 appearances.
Even Kieran Tierney has felt the brunt of Arteta’s no-nonsense approach to trying to end the club’s 20-year wait to win the Premier League.
Arteta made the injury-prone Scot aware he’s falling to the back of his mind with the signings Oleksandr Zinchenko and Jurrien Timber before loaning him out to Real Sociedad.
Fans should stop whinging about his decision to drop Aaron Ramsdale
The talented but volatile Matteo Guendouzi and tireless workhouse were also shown the Emirates back door once they were deemed to be surplus to requirements.
It’s not just on the pitch that Arteta has put his foot down, with the 41-year-old insisting there be no cliques at meal times.
Players are banned from choosing where they sit and are forced to mix with one another and the coaching staff.
It’s clear from the camaraderie shown on the pitch that there are no factions in the squad and that they’re a tight-knit and focused unit.
That unity led to the Gunners turning in their best title challenge in seven years last season, in which they finished second following a disappointing collapse at the final hurdle.
Fans can complain all they want about Arteta being “harsh” on Ramsdale by dropping him for Raya, who needs to have the experience of being between the sticks in big games should injury befall his team-mate.
But they can’t question his decision-making, which, to this day, has been nothing short of spot-on.
Arsenal have become a super tight-knit group under Mikel ArtetaREX