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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Alex Young

Arsenal: Mikel Arteta has 'big problem' as £220m transfer spend made squad weaker

The form of David Raya is now a "big problem" for Mikel Arteta, whose summer business has made Arsenal weaker.

That's the view of both Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville, who do not believe the Gunners pose the same threat as last season's remarkable title race which ultimately ended in failure.

Carragher believes, despite a summer spent of more than £220million, Arsenal still have problems both in goal and attack with David Raya's form a concern and the forward line not producing the goods.

"I feel like I'm watching a different team", Carragher told Sky Sports. "They're more solid defensively, but they're not as fluid and they're creating as many chances.

David Raya has struggled his joining on a loan-to-buy deal. (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

"Have Arsenal got a centre-forward and a goalkeeper who can win you the league? I don't think they have. When you think of vital positions where teams win leagues, it's in both boxes.

"It wasn't a mistake as such to replace Aaron Ramsdale, as Ramsdale wasn't going to win you the league. But the guy he's chosen right now to come in is absolutely all over the place.

"I think bringing in Declan Rice has improved them but they've not moved the dial with the goalkeeper. They don't seem as fluid, and it's not just about the players they've brought in.

"The ones who were playing out of their skin last season are not quite firing this season."

Arsenal lost for the first time in the Premier League this season at Newcastle, with Antony Gordon's controversial winner settling a bad-tempered game. Arteta unleashed a remarkable rant after the game about the officiating, but Carragher was keen to point out Raya was again poor.

He added: "Don't let it get lost in all the VAR stuff of the Arsenal goalkeeper again making another mistake. This is now a massive problem for Mikel Arteta.

"This is a huge problem. He's made the same mistake he made as he did a couple of weeks ago against Chelsea. He got away with it against Sevilla, but he's not got away with it here.

"The goalkeeper just keeps edging and edging forward. When the ball leaves [Joe] Willock's foot again, the goalkeeper is outside his near post. This is a recurring theme with this goalkeeper.

"Then he finds himself out of position, he can't then reach, and it has a knock-on effect on the foul. I think Gabriel is stooping as he thinks the ball is going to evade the goalkeeper. The talk will be about VAR, everyone will be talking about it, but Raya is a huge problem."

Neville added that Arsenal are still missing a reliable presence up top to complement the likes of Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah.

Gabriel Jesus should be a back-up option, says Gary Neville (Getty Images)

Jesus was brought from Manchester City for around £45million but remains one of the most wasteful strikers in the league while Nketiah, Neville says, should be a third-choice striker at a title-chasing team.

He said: "I've said this after a few Arsenal games this season - Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah at centre-forward are both very good, but I'd like them to be my No 2 and No 3 strikers. I'd really love them to be my No 2 and No 3 strikers and they might even end up playing wide and off the left in certain games or off the right because both of them can do that role.

"But if Arsenal had a top No 9 and they've had some really top No 9s in the last 20 or 30 years, then I think they could go on to win the title. I've predicted them to win the title but when I look at them now in big games, I feel they're lacking something up top.

"To be fair, I think Mikel Arteta knows that. He loves them both and he should do, Arsenal fans should do. This is not a criticism of the two lads they've got because I think they can be really important players for Arsenal, but I feel like they should be part of the 20-man squad.

"They could still contribute in 25-30 matches a season, but I feel you need something more in those top matches that just get you over the line. Erling Haaland does get Man City over the line quite a bit and I think that's what the difference could be in the end. So for me, that's a big thing."

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