Mikel Arteta has confirmed goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale will return to Arsenal’s Premier League team on Saturday, with David Raya ineligible to face his parent club Brentford.
Raya has started every Premier League and Champions League game for the Gunners since the September international break, usurping Ramsdale as Arsenal’s No 1 in the process.
Raya is on loan from Brentford – with a view to making the temporary deal permanent next summer for £30m – and Premier League rules state that loan players cannot play against their parent clubs.
Arteta confirmed at his pre-Brentford press conference that Ramsdale will start in goal for the Gunners again on Saturday evening.
When asked if there was any expectation on Ramsdale ahead of the Gtech Community stadium, Arteta said: “My job is to try and help people in the very best possible way every day to make him better and give them the best possible chance to fulfil the potential in their career and get to the highest possible position.
“There is no expectation with any player.”
Ramsdale has only played twice for Arsenal since his last Premier League outing on September 3, when they beat Manchester United 3-2 – both have come in the Carabao Cup.
One of those games was, coincidentally, an away trip to Brentford, with Ramsdale impressing with a string of saves in a 1-0 win. The other saw the England international concede three in the Carabao Cup fourth round loss at West Ham on November 1.
Estonian goalkeeper Karl Hein, who has only featured in one competitive game for Arsenal, is the only other first-team goalkeeper available to Arteta.
Ramsdale’s dad: The way Aaron was dropped was wrong
Last week, Ramsdale’s father Nick criticised the manner in which Arteta dropped his son in September, saying the England goalkeeper had no idea he would be replaced as first-choice when Raya arrived in north London in August.
In an interview with the Highbury Squad podcast, which included input from former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell, Ramsdale Senior said: “We did not have a clue. I didn’t have a clue, our family didn’t have a clue, Aaron didn’t have a clue that he was not going to carry on playing. All of a sudden, he’s not been played.
“You just have to look at it personally and I’m probably saying too much but: Aaron is going to be the cup goalkeeper, and David Raya is going to be the main man unless something happens, an injury or a sending-off. And Aaron’s got to live with that and he is living with that even though he’s not been told it. By anybody.
“Squads evolve all the time, nobody is going to be there forever. David Raya has not pulled up trees so far, let’s say he’s not going to. Even though the way it’s been done, in my eyes, it’s been wrong.
“Aaron lost that smile. And it’s difficult to see him there. We all keep saying: ‘you need to keep smiling’. And at the moment in time, we haven’t got that smile in him.
“David Raya is a great goalkeeper and it’s not his fault. He’s just come in as a goalkeeper. It’s just like when Aaron came in and Bernd Leno was there. Aaron says Raya is a lovely guy and he works hard with him. Aaron is trying to help in as much as he can to settle in with the squad. It’s possibly the way it’s been done, not knowing the reason why.
“My only problem is when I spoke to Mr Arteta on the phone before he signed Aaron, he said he wanted Aaron. But now David Raya is back on the market and he had David Raya.
Asked what Raya’s arrival means for his son’s future at Arsenal, Ramsdale’s father added: “I don’t know. Aaron has just signed a new deal with three or four years with an option for 12 months.
“This is honestly truthful, I’m not spinning the yarn. This is purely me: why would you extend a goalkeeper or any player’s contract and then two or three months later [make a move on someone else]?”
Follow Brentford vs Arsenal on Sky Sports’ digital platforms via the live blog on Saturday; kick-off 5.30pm. Watch free highlights after full-time