David Raya typified Arsenal's new resilience with eventful north London derby display

  • David Raya summed up Arsenal's new resilient streak by bouncing back from a potentially fatal error during the 3-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur in the north London derby
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal FC - Premier League / Catherine Ivill - AMA/GettyImages

David Raya showed how much more resilient Arsenal have become by rebounding quickly from a key mistake during the 3-2 north London derby win at Tottenham.

Mikel Arteta has asked for more leaps of faith than there are days in the week from Arsenal fans, but his gamble to put goalkeeper David Raya ahead of Aaron Ramsdale is paying off handsomely. Raya has helped Arsenal cultivate a new-found resilience, something the Spaniard typified with an eventful display to help the Gunners beat Tottenham 3-2 away in the north London derby on Sunday.

It was a match seemingly set to be defined by Arsenal's growing maturity. The kind of control, patience, good fortune and moments of individual star power that allow title contenders to win when they're below par during the business end of a season.

Don't kid yourself for a second, Arsenal were way off the pace during the early exchanges against Spurs. The visitors surrendered chances galore and appeared allergic to steady possession.

Fortunately, set-pieces, this season's secret sauce, bailed Arteta's team out with two goals from corners. So did pace on the break, when Kai Havertz, another Arteta experiment yielding era-defining results, picked out Bukayo Saka with a pass-of-the-seaon contender, leaving Arsenal's true world-class talent (live with it) to do his Arjen Robben bit.

Three goals they didn't entirely deserve put the Gunners into cruise control. The game became a testing ground for how much Arteta's team had learned from last season's late collapse in a title race.

Passing grades were due all around until Raya elbowed Dr. Jekyll off stage and went all Mr. Hyde to gift buccaneering centre-back Cristian Romero a goal.

Raya's assist was the kind of mistake that broke Arsenal last season. When Arteta's team surrendered two-goal leads at West Ham and Liverpool and let soon-to-be relegated Southampton inexplicably take a 3-1 lead at the Emirates, en route to another pair of dropped points.

A similar setback looked inevitable after Raya afforded Spurs a reprieve, but Arsenal's No. 1 instead changed the narrative.

David Raya showed Arsenal's elasticity

'Bounce-backability' was actually coined by then-Crystal Palace boss Iain Dowie just over 20 years ago. It's stuck around because there's a charm to the phrase missing from the siren song of meat and potatoes pundits who parrot words like "character," "spine" and "game management."

Arsenal needed a touch of bounce-backability at Tottenham. Raya duly obliged, despite seeing a lengthy run without conceding on his travels, per Squawka, broken by his own error.

The gaffe became the cue for Raya to snap back in style. As Sam Dean of The Telegraph put it:

"Huge clanger by David Raya for the Romero goal, and that obviously changed the game. BUT he was so, so good at dealing with all the crosses in that second half. Claimed everything. He's just had an enormous hug from Arteta."

Sam Dean

Arteta was right to show his appreciation for what Raya had done. The latter's rebound was no small thing.

Raya did far more than snatch a few crosses out of the clouds. He reset his focus and held his nerve amid a suddenly fervent crowd and a more physical Tottenham attack led by Richarlison's power and Brennan Johnson's direct running.

Refocusing and staying calm amid the storm is not a matter of flipping a switch, and things easily could have been different. There was a moment just after Raya's initial clanger where his minor mistake nearly became a full-blown horror.

It occurred when Johnson played in Richarlison, but the pass was slightly overhit and a sliding Raya claimed. Just for a second, after Raya came charging out to meet Richarlison's run, shutting eyes and hoping against hope was the only buttress against a seemingly inevitable red card and penalty.

Raya just about got it right, and the escape quelled any further tension. The 28-year-old then relied on his experience and a well-structured Arsenal defensive line to overcome any further setbacks.

There was another setback when Declan Rice gifted Spurs a spot-kick Son Heung-min converted. Raya was well beaten from 12 yards, but he didn't let that disturb his composure nor disrupt his anticipation and handling, both of which remained stellar during frantic final stages.

Standing firm amid the chaos earned Raya special praise from Arteta, in comments relayed by Fabrizio Romano.

Not faltering when the pressure is on is how Arsenal can beat Manchester City to the Premier League title. It's still an uphill battle, thanks to the champions' game in hand, but at least Raya showed the Gunners will roll with the punches better than last season.