‘Signings have raised the bar’: Arteta talks up Rice, Havertz and Raya

‘Signings have raised the bar’: Arteta talks up Rice, Havertz and Raya

Mikel Arteta was effusive in his praise of Arsenal’s signings from last summer and how they have driven the club’s challenge for the Premier League title. The 3-0 home victory over Bournemouth on Saturday was built on performances by Declan Rice and Kai Havertz while David Raya’s 15th clean sheet of the season confirmed him as the Golden Glove winner.

Rice made the second goal for Leandro Trossard and scored the third while Havertz won the penalty for Bukayo Saka to score the opener, albeit in controversial fashion. Havertz had hung out his trailing leg, waiting for contact from the goalkeeper, Mark Travers. When it came, he went down.

The Bournemouth manager, Andoni Iraola, was exasperated at that decision and also the disallowing of an Antoine Semenyo goal on 73 minutes at 2-0 after Dominic Solanke was ruled to have impeded Raya.

“The summer signings have raised the bar a lot,” Arteta said. “If we spend money we’d better do it wisely and in the most effective way. We’re really happy with the recruitment that we had. It had a big impact in the team. It has raised not only the level of the team but the level of the rest of the players, as well. You see today we had some big performances from a lot of individuals.”

Rice has seven goals and 10 assists in all competitions for Arsenal while Havertz has contributed 13 and six. Arteta said Rice’s impact in the final third had surprised him. “We thought it was going to be very related to the spaces he was going to occupy on the pitch but it’s something else to then do it in this league,” he said.

“He’s done it – even when we’ve changed him from position to position … it’s not easy to adapt to that.

“Kai was unbelievable. Everything he did – the timings, the movements, how he keeps the ball, the way he goes to the press, how he links play, his understanding of the game.

“We’re also really pleased with David. It’s a huge success for the team to achieve that [the Golden Glove] with a few games to go still. It gives us a huge foundation to be closer to winning trophies.”

Golden Glove winner keeper David Raya keeps an eye on the ball as Bournemouth mount an attack against Arsenal.View image in fullscreen

Iraola made the point on several occasions that Arsenal fully deserved to win. But he was entitled to voice a strong opinion on the penalty and the disallowed goal. On the latter, he felt the substitute, Philip Billing, had initially been fouled by William Saliba before Solanke was adjudged to have unbalanced Raya as the goalkeeper attempted to punch clear.

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“It’s a penalty for Philip Billing or it’s a goal, you cannot go another way,” Iraola said. “I was thinking: ‘OK, they are taking their time because they are deciding if it’s a penalty for Billing or they are just leaving the goal.’ I don’t understand the decision.

“On the penalty, Kai Havertz is the one trying to find the contact. At the last moment he finds the contact and he’s not going towards goal to score a goal. Probably if you asked the person on the VAR they’d say: ‘It’s not a penalty.’ Probably they are thinking: ‘There is contact so I can’t overturn it.’

“In two or three days, in the [referees’] report, they will say: ‘The panel has said it was not a penalty [and] it was a goal’. That doesn’t matter.”

Source: theguardian.com