Arsenal keeper David Raya is loving the pressure of the title race despite calamity in epic North London Derby

THE chaos. The drama. The pressure.

Arsenal’s North London derby delight gave a glimpse into what their title charge is likely to throw up with three Premier League games left.

GettyDavid Raya played his part in Arsenal’s tense victory over Tottenham on Sunday[/caption]

ReutersArsenal boss Mikel Arteta hailed Raya’s display despite his second half error[/caption]

GettyThe Gunners are still in the Premier League title race with three games left[/caption]

But Gunners keeper David Raya is loving every minute of it – despite still being at the mercy of needing an improbable Manchester City bottle job.

Title mettle has been severely tested this month with six tough outings, but Mikel Arteta’s side have come through it with five wins to stay atop the Prem summit.

Spurs gave them an almighty late scare in N17 on Sunday afternoon, coming from 3-0 down to score two goals and pushed hard for an equaliser that would have crushed Arsenal hopes.

Instead, Arteta’s boys are still in the fight, albeit with City a point behind and with a game in hand, which is ironically also a trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

All Arsenal can do is collect nine points from their final three matches, starting with Bournemouth on Saturday before facing Manchester United and then Everton.

The heat is on, and Spaniard Raya is smiling his way through it. 


Asked if he is enjoying the anxiety this run-in is producing, he beamed: “I am! I like challenges and I don’t feel under pressure.

“When there is pressure, it is an opportunity to show what you are capable of. I am really, really enjoying this challenge.


“Every game is important and we have got three games. We have to think about the next, which is Bournemouth at home. We have to focus on that.

“There are things we can do better. We just have to carry on with this momentum, try to get the three points on Saturday and we will see what happens in the end.

“We have to focus on ourselves, what we can control, no matter what. 

“We cannot focus on other teams. You lose your focus on yourself and you don’t start playing the same way.”

In a bizarre, frantic derby, Arsenal were three goals to the good after 38 minutes with Bukayo Saka and Kai Havertz netting following Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s early own goal.

But a clumsy error from Raya playing out from the back gifted Spurs a lifeline via Cristian Romero in the 64th minute and Heung-Min Son’s penalty in the 87th minute produced a nervy finish.

PARaya gifted Spurs a goal with a scuffed pass to Cristian Romero[/caption]

Raya recovered well from his mistake, claiming several important catches from dangerous crosses in the closing stages and received a huge hug from Arteta on the pitch at full time.

On what his boss said to him in that moment, Raya explained: “Mistakes are part of football and you learn from them.

“I shouldn’t have played that ball [to Romero], I should have gone a little bit longer, but I wanted to control the game a little bit more. It didn’t happen.

“What [Arteta] said was just about the character that I showed after the mistake. I thought I was mentally very strong and I just forgot about it, I just carried on playing my game.

“I tried to help the team as much as possible. I think I showed that in the last 20 minutes.”

Pep Guardiola’s City face Wolves and Fulham next before their game in hand at Spurs on May 14, ending the campaign by hosting West Ham at the Etihad.

With the Toffees now mathematically safe from the drop and Bournemouth in mid-table, Arsenal’s last big test will be at Old Trafford against Man United on May 12.

Arteta’s men currently have the best away record in the Prem with 12 wins from 18 – their last defeat on the road coming at Craven Cottage versus Fulham on December 31 – as well as 13 league wins from 15 this calendar year.

Raya added: “That shows the character of the team. You have to win away games to be able to push for the title. We are showing that.

“You have to believe in yourself and believe in what the gaffer tells you to do and the game plan that will help us to get the points that we need.”

Tactics Exposed: Why Kai Havertz is Arsenal’s most important player

By Dean Scoggins

KAI HAVERTZ endured a difficult start to life at the Emirates after his big-money move from Chelsea.

But has now well and truly found his feet.

The German, 24, has found his scoring boots in recent weeks, including his double against his old club.

But Havertz has been providing much more than goals in recent months.

In fact he has become Mikel Arteta’s most important player as Arsenal go for the title.

That’s after the Spanish boss made a genius tactical switch.

Click here to read all about it.

Or to watch the brilliant video in full on YouTube.

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