Charles Watts believes that Mikel Arteta has an easy decision to make when it comes to the goalkeeper position against Aston Villa.
The Gunners will be without first-choice shot-stopper Bernd Leno after his red card against Wolves in midweek, so the role now falls to either Alex Rúnarsson, who took Leno’s place at Molineux, or January signing Mat Ryan who is currently dealing with an injury but is ‘in contention’ to play at Villa Park.
But in the eyes of Watts, speaking on his latest show, there is only really one choice when it comes to who should be starting between the sticks against Aston Villa.
He said: “Although this is a big decision, it’s probably an easy one. If Mat Ryan’s fit, Mat Ryan plays. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.
“If he’s 100% fit, or even 95% fit, I think Arsenal go with him. If not, it’s going to have to be Alex Rúnarsson in goal. So that’s maybe not a difficult decision for Arteta, but it’s an important one.”
Who would you start if both players are deemed fit?
TIF Thoughts on Charles Watts suggesting it is Mat Ryan’s place to lose against Aston Villa…
Watts might just be guilty of being a little too risky here when it comes to the position, because the last thing Arsenal need right now is for their new signing to reaggravate his current injury and be out of action for an extended period of time.
And whilst Rúnarsson had a pretty bad game against Manchester City in his last start for the club, he actually played pretty well against Wolves in midweek, with former Gunners stopper David Seaman even calling him out for praise for his display on short notice.
So to borrow a phrase from baseball, Rúnarsson has ‘the hot hand’ at the moment and should be given the opportunity to start, even if Ryan is available.
With Watts himself confirming that Ryan had taken part in training on Friday evening, perhaps there is still some thinking for Arteta to do ahead of the lunchtime kick-off.