Arsenal can replace another two first-team stars in repeat of Raya decision

Mikel Arteta’s decision to replace Aaron Ramsdale with David Raya is a clear sign he views his fellow Spaniard as an upgrade in goal. But the Arsenal boss must continue with that philosophy in other positions on the pitch and in particular up front.

Raya was a surprise signing in August, initially joining on loan from Brentford with an option to buy. The goalkeeper had opportunities to move elsewhere and become a guaranteed No 1.

However, he chose to join the Gunners with the premise that he must work for his spot. But after just three games on the bench, Raya has now usurped Ramsdale as Arteta’s first-choice goalkeeper.

Arteta may disagree with that assumption but starting in the club’s first Champions League match in over six years and then the north London derby certainly leads to the view that Raya is now the No 1. It seems harsh on Ramsdale, who was voted in the PFA Team of the Year last season and is a regular in the England squad.

But if Arteta thinks Raya is the better goalkeeper then he must stick to what he believes for the time being. However, if he is looking to upgrade, the striker position should be next on his agenda.

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Eddie Nketiah has started five of Arsenal’s six Premier League matches so far this season. He has two goals to his name and earned a first senior call-up to the England squad.

He would have likely not seen as much game time if Gabriel Jesus was fit at the start of the campaign. Sunday’s match against Tottenham was the Brazilian’s first league start since May after undergoing minor knee surgery.

Nketiah struggled to have an impact on the game aside from forcing Guglielmo Vicario into a save from a tight angle in the first half. His hold-up play was poor and the decision to take Jesus off, instead of Nketiah, was met with audible frustration from the Arsenal fans at the Emirates.

Jesus didn’t have his best game either. He operated off the left due to the absences of Gabriel Martinelli and Leandro Trossard.

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His work rate is undeniable as he created a chance all by himself after pressing James Maddison and nicking the ball off the Tottenham star. But with the goal at his mercy, Jesus lacked the composure needed to make it 2-0 and instead blasted it over.

It was a game-changing moment, with Tottenham taking the ascendency for the next 10 minutes before equalising through Son Heung-min. Jesus is a favourite with Arsenal fans but he will never likely be a 25-goal-a-season striker.

That is the missing piece in this Arsenal team. Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Martinelli all contributed at least 15 goals in all competitions last season but the onus is currently on them to do so again.

Arteta needs the right striker who will fit into his style of play. But it is rare to win major trophies without a prolific frontman, something Jesus or Nketiah don’t look likely to become.

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