What Mikel Arteta did to single out criticised Arsenal star after Leandro Trossard scored

Mikel Arteta has faced lots of criticism for some eccentric decisions during his time as Arsenal manager, so he’ll be delighted to have proved a few doubters wrong this weekend

Leandro Trossard of Arsenal celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on January 20, 2024

Arteta will have felt massively vindicated by his decision to sign Raya after Tro

Mikel Arteta was delighted with David Raya for his role in Arsenal’s 5-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon. The 28-year-old goalkeeper, who joined the Gunners from Brentford in the summer on an initial loan, struggled in the first half of the season but he appears to have turned over a new leaf.

The decision to replace Aaron Ramsdale at the start of the campaign raised a few eyebrows to say the least, piling the pressure on Raya to repay his manager’s faith. Despite some tricky moments and costly mistakes in big games, the Arsenal boss has stood by his new shot-stopper through thick and thin.

So, as soon as Raya offered a glimpse of Arteta’s long-term vision between the sticks during the Gunners’ win over Palace, the 41-year-old felt an overwhelming sense of vindication. Shortly before the hour mark, Roy Hodgson’s side, who were two-nil down at the time, had a corner.

Desperate to get a foothold in the game, the Eagles flooded Arsenal’s box with players. The north Londoners, who had recognised the overload, left Gabriel Jesus high and wide with Leandro Trossard on the edge of the 18-yard box.

Raya leapt highest to gather the delivery and, in the blink of an eye, he catapulted Arsenal up the pitch with a tremendous throw up to the Gunners’ frontman. With a counter-attack underway, Trossard charged up the pitch before peeling off Nathaniel Clyne.

Jesus eventually found the Belgian, who cut back inside onto his right foot and lashed the ball across Dean Henderson into the top left-hand corner. While the duo wheeled away in celebration, Arteta, who appeared to be shouting ‘vamos’ at the top of his lungs, darted down the touchline and passionately gestured towards Raya.

It seemed like a massive moment for the Arsenal shot-stopper, who has faced lots of criticism in recent months. Speaking to reporters after the game, Arteta was quizzed on the significance of set pieces with three of the Gunners’ five goals against Palace coming from carefully orchastrated routines.

“It’s very important,” said the Spaniard. “The reality is that we trained set pieces less than other aspects of the game. This is the beauty of it. Really pleased with the clean sheet first and sharing the goals.”

 

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