Arsenal bring in new shot-stopper in Mat Ryan

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Having been on the lookout for a technically able competitor to Bernd Leno in goals, it looks like Arsenal have found the player they were looking for. A major move has been made to bring in a new goalkeeper all January, with previous backups lacking the quality of Emi Martinez. The latest Gunner to wear the goalkeeper kit, then, will be Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Mat Ryan. The Australian international has been a major part of Brighton’s team, but has fallen down the pecking order and now looks to rebuild his career in North London.

Aged 28, the Australian is seen as a solid, experienced option to bring in who can match the ‘sweeper keeper’ style that Arsenal are looking for. He joins the club on a season-long loan deal until the end of the 2020-21 season, where the performance and output will be evaluated. Seen as a good value back-up option with league experience, Ryan offers something different for the Gunners in between the sticks.

Asked about the signing when it was completed, Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta said: “We know Mat very well through his performances with Brighton in recent seasons and he brings additional quality to our squad. 

“Mat has very good Premier League experience and has played over 100 times in the league, which is something that will benefit us greatly on and off the pitch. We welcome Mat to Arsenal and look forward to working with him this season.”

Is Mat Ryan good enough for Arsenal?

Though seen as an agile goalkeeper with an impressive technical standard, Ryan has come under-fire for his actual main job – shot stopping – more than a few times. When he arrived in England, he was seen as a player with potential who had a lot of work to do to turn around his abilities and make the most of his potential. Six years after coming to England, most of those complaints could still be made without issue.

The Australian is available after falling out with Brighton coach Graeme Potter after a 3-0 loss at Leicester City where he barely covered himself in glory. The signing, though, does pose some intriguing questions about what Arsenal are looking for in a goalkeeper.

For example, Ryan will replace the outgoing Icelandic goalkeeper, Runar Alex Runarsson. The Icelandic keeper had the worst save percentage ratio in his last full season in France, when he made just 57.8% of his saves for Reims. Ryan, though, comes with an even worse save record in the Premier League in the 2020-21 season, making just 47.1% of his saves.

However, Ryan has shown in the past that he has a level considerably above what is being shown just now. While he might be by no means an elite goalkeeper, he was a Premier League performer who has simply reached the end of his time with his current club.

For Gunners fans, the hope is that he can at least give Leno some competition in nets. It is, though, another intriguing signing that poses as many questions as it does provide answers.

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