Are Arsenal actually weaker this season with Havertz and Raya’s arrival?

Here’s an interesting thought – Craig Burley believes Arsenal’s summer additions, Kai Havertz and David Raya, have weakened them.

After regaining their competitive edge and place in the Premier League title race last season (although they had to settle for second place), the expectation was that Arsenal would be even better this season. Why were they supposed to be better? The notion was that with an excellent summer transfer window, Mikel Arteta might have a stronger side to redeem the Gunners’ failures of the 2022–23 season.

However, ex-Chelsea player Craig Burley believes that the two transfers (of Raya and Havertz) did not strengthen Arsenal as much as they should have. The ESPN pundit criticized the two after the North London derby last Saturday, where Raya had a game to forget.

“The two big talking points of the summer—Havertz and Raya—are making Arsenal weaker and not stronger,” Burley told ESPN.

“One, Havertz, has been taken out of the team already, and the other we will see. Arsenal are a poorer defensive side with Raya instead of Ramsdale.

“I’m not sure about his positioning for Mykhailo Mudryk’s goal [for Chelsea against Arsenal on Saturday].”

Raya and Havertz have not performed as well as many expected them to. But Havertz appears to be finding his form, as his ball to Saka resulted in our star boy assisting Leandro Trossard’s goal. Let us not forget that in the two games prior to the London derby, he scored against Bournemouth and also produced an assist against Manchester City. Arteta appears to have a strategy for getting him back to his best, which is perhaps why he has relieved him of the strain of starting games.

Raya has looked wobbly and uncomfortable at times in some games he has played (against Lens, Manchester City, and Chelsea). I guess Arteta should bench him for the time being.

Obviously, the two aren’t instant hits, but they may play a significant part in Arsenal’s ambitions if they fully adapt and strive to play at the high levels many know they can.

Daniel O

Tags craig burley


  1. I don’t think so, because we beat Man City twice with Havertz/ Raya and we’re still undefeated in EPL. Arsenal just have a different set of problems with the new players and the new setup

    1. Still one can’t help the feelings that the wheels could come off spectacularly at any point in time.

      5 games in last season, I felt no such doom.

      1. Other teams couldn’t anticipate Arteta’s 3-2-4-1 tactic last season, but now they know how to make it less effective. After the upcoming game at St James Park, we’ll have a set of relatively easy games to rebuild the confidence of the players

        1. This two players have not in any way hampered Arsenal progress. Though Raya errors have been unbelievably regular; I guess it’s the pressure of keeping for a big club. Havertz is gradually settling in he will adapt. It took Odegard a whole season to adjust after his move from RMadrid. Support is what this players need to help them settle well into Arsenal way of playing. Arteta wouldn’t change his mind soon on them so criticism won’t really help. Let’s stay hopeful they will raising there performances.

      2. Raya is still on loan. It seems it is starting to destabilizing the team, but I think he is incrementally better than Ramsdale and not world class. Was it worth the try? Time will decide, he will need to fix his mistakes fast, else if he dropped – I don’t think he can make a comeback.
        Outfield players we lack Timber. With him as utility cover we could have operated little differently. Havertz was a forward cover, mid field 8 – he is gr8 at nothing, at least not proven yet at Arsenal, but a top backup cover. But had Timber not been lost for the season – we would have done better overall

  2. Maybe some advantages in throwing opponents managers off-scent in regards to our set up…

    But overall I will take Arsenal’s thrilling run last season over this dodgy new reality all day!

    Moreso now that last seasons team has matured and known each other even better.

  3. More a behind the scenes decisions, our additions have got undoubted qualities and in no way have they weakened us. Trust the process!

  4. No Arsenal is not weaker, in fact they are stronger in my opinion, its the constant fidgeting with the team and the fail experiments which are causing the anxieties.

    They are signs the big German could be coming to life at the right time, but Raya may have been brought to play Arteta ball.

    1. “The big German”? Oh yes , of course you meant that tall but extremely skinny and lacking in muscles German. How silly of me.

  5. Certainly, our team’s performance has unquestionably diminished. The absence of Xhaka has proven to be a more significant setback than we initially anticipated. Havertz has yet to demonstrate the caliber of skill required to enhance our team. While many speak of his talent, it’s important to remember that talent alone, without the corresponding ability, holds little value. Raya has failed to exhibit any superiority over Ramsdale, and in my personal opinion, he falls short and is indeed inferior

    1. But wasn’t Xhaka still here when we fell apart near the end of last season? We seem to have carried on from the poor form we ended with last season.

  6. Not according to the results.

    Unbeaten in the league
    Unbeaten in 5 games against top 6 clubs
    2 wins from 2 against ManC
    First trophy of the season

  7. We definitely are no way stronger, with Raya and Haverz. Neither are stick on first teamers and in different ways, have not impressed at all.

  8. Rice and Timber (if he had not been injured) have strengthened the team but Havertz and Raya have set us back a little bit – but it is the results that matter, and we are getting them so hopefully Havertz and Raya will pick up their performances and deliver what we know they can deliver..

  9. I believe Raya will be ok as soon as he gets the nervousness out of his system but I think Havertz will never work. This buy was always going to come back and bite Arteta because we all saw the Chelsea Havertz a realized he just does not suit the EPL. The only place he shows little effectiveness is at CF and that’s stretching it. Every new player is always a gamble, but we saw Havertz for 3 years at Chelsea and how bad he was so it was very surprising when Arteta decided to sign him especially for $65M. The problem now is that we still need a good number 8 as Rice is more suited to the number 6 position.

  10. They aren’t stronger either. The reason they aren’t crumbling is because individual players have improved their game: Saka for example. Raya and Havertz are easily the poorest signings by a big 6.
    Constantly the fan base sees what should be done but Edu and Arteta don’t. Maddison was available for cheap. He has been a regular scorer and passer from midfield. Why would Arsenal prefer an under-performer like Havertz for such an exorbitant price. It’s simply ridiculous.

    Then instead of building on the past team momentun, Arteta has consistently made one experiment or the other.
    Partey has just played well against City; then comes up Chelsea: how do you leave him on the bench and play Jorginho who doesn’t move the ball often forward. It’s crazy

  11. I think it’s fair to say that the recruitment of Vieira, Havertz and Raya has failed to produce a decent return on our considerable investment in these players.Providing he fully recovers from injury, I am pretty sure Timber will prove to be a very good buy as will Kwior in my estimation.I keep hoping that Havertz will regain the tremendous form he showed in the German League and perhaps this might happen if he is used tonight to give Odegaard a break which he certainly needs.

  12. Firstly, Arteta admitted he had no idea where Havertz would “fit in.” Is he an upgrade on Xhaka in midfield? Absolutely not.

    Is Raya a level above Ramsdale? I say no, as we have seen recently.

    Rice, Partey, and Odegaard is the upgraded midfield, Havertz can’t crack into that midfield if one is being honest.

  13. Yes and no!

    No because we’ve added depth to the squad

    Yes because the managers ego is forcing the players to start the majority of the games when they shouldn’t be

  14. Honesty, i think you judge strength and weaknesses by the players you start and the strength of your bench

    For starting attackers, I would choose mostly from this list Saka, Martinelli, Jesus, Odegaard, Trossard. Obviously you need to consider factors like injuries, your opponents etc

    But I wouldn’t start Havertz until he improves more or if we have to or for some tactical reason

    Cost of a player shouldn’t dictate how often they should start or even play

    Playing time should be earned through good performances

    So whether Havertz and Raya strengthens or weaken us depends on how MA utilizes them

  15. There must be some secret obligation that Arsenal owes to Chelsea why we constantly buy their players that they (or any other club for that matter) want and most times for good money. Petr Cech, David Luiz, Willian, Jorghino and now Havertz. It’s one of the great mysteries of football that only the Arsenal hierarchy can answer.

  16. Chelsea is good at mugging other clubs. Mugged us for Cech, Luiz, Willian, Jorginho, and sadly Havertz for 65 million.

    They mugged Utd when they sold Mount, so I can smile at least at that.

    Shocking that Arteta passed on Maddison and paid twice as much for Havertz.

    We needed a B2B midfielder, striker, and backup for Saka, yet wasted money on Havertz.

    Still don’t know what Havertz excels at, is he good at anything? Serious question.

    Showcase that dud, yet ESR can’t get a honest competition. Not with Havertz or Odegaard, both have been poor lately. Yet Arteta doesn’t have favorites supposedly.

    Lastly, Tomiyasu showed he is more dependable than Zinchenko. A LB who can defend, long may it continue. Zinchenko is not a LB, hopefully a 2nd choice now.

    1. Havert purchase is the worst blunder of all I have always had it in my mind that arsenal should add Madison and rice to the team what could have been with that quality and depth but arteta know better he has always sign one or two averaged and below average players every summer windows. Players should be bought base on their stats and suitability to the league

  17. Arsenal are weakened with Harvetz and Jorginho in their squad. Raya is a positive addition that’s providing competition in the goal keeping department since Arteta won’t promote anyone from the academy. If PEP had half as much talent as Arteta does at his exposure, City would be far more unpredictable and untouchable. Ramsdale got carried away with the notion, he’s part of the English spine at Arsenal and thought that gives him a free pass into the team. He needs to stop sulking and try and eliminate his howlers, most of which are due to complacency and lack of focus. Rata has committed enough errors to give him a chance, but he needs to show he’s better.

  18. Havertz has been taken out the starting line up but has been superb as a substitute, his physical presence adds a bit of steel late in games, he wins arial duals, presses well and has been involved in late goals. If he keeps on like this then he will be pushing to get his starting place back, especially with Ødegaard needing a rest.

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