With it being widely reported that Icelandic International keeper Runar Alex Runarsson had a medical on Monday ahead of joining the Gunners for only £1.6 million, I thought it timely to get the low down on our potential new shot stopper. With reports if the Dijon custodian being so disparate, I wanted to hear it from an Icelandic source with Arsenal’s interests at hear so the logical place to go was to the club’s supporter’s club in Iceland. I am delighted therefore to chat with Hilmar Guðjónsson , the Vice President of the official Arsenal Iceland.
Firstly, Hilmar can you give us a bit of personal background on your association with the club and why you chose Arsenal? Was it Siggi?
When Siggi came to Arsenal I was 8 years old. I had started supporting Arsenal, but not following them as I do today. My dad is an Arsenal fan, so I grew up “knowing” what team to support.
Were you taken by surprise when the stories emerged from nowhere linking us with Runar or had you heard rumours in Iceland ahead of us?
Totally, we in Iceland are not blessed with good goalkeepers. So, an Icelandic keeper was not what I had in mind when I was thinking who could replace Martinez.
It seems Runar is well known to Arsenals Goalkeeper Coach Inaki Cana, who worked with him in Denmark. I note he was FC Nordsjaelland’s player of the season in 17/18. I assume it was his form that time that earned him his international call up in 2017.
Yes, that is true. He was around 17 years old when we started seeing him with the first team of KR Reykjavik. Which is one of the best team here in Iceland. Soon he went to Denmark, so having an 18-year-old goalkeeper playing abroad, getting the call up was a no-brainer.
It appears that the keeper has lost his place as first choice for Dijon. Has his formed suffered after his move to France or was this perhaps a step up he was not ready for?
I am not sure. Playing for a team that is fighting for relegation is not easy. His shot stop ratio last season was under 60% and that statistic is not something to be proud of!
Perhaps you could outline his strengths and weaknesses as you see them?
As I have said before, he left Iceland when I was young and to a league that is not easy to follow. But from what I have seen, he has fantastic feet. And as we have seen from Arteta that is a quality that he likes in his keepers. Runar is 1.86m, just as big as I am, I would normally say. But he is a goalkeeper and you want them bigger. So, I would say, he is just as small as I am. And that is his weakness. He does not pose a great presence in the area and like Leno, he is not fantastic on coming for crosses.
Based on this do you feel Runar has been signed as a Martinez replacement and therefore ready to be played by Arteta in the Europa League and League Cup, or perhaps as a third choice to replace Matt Macey?
When I first read the news, I thought he would become our third keeper. But now we are reading that Matt Macey is leaving as well. Based on that, as well as Runar getting a five-year deal, I think he will be our 2nd keeper, which is a concern to me.
Is there anything you would like to add, or questions I have missed?
We have been lucky with our 2nd goalkeeper in Martinez, and not every team that have such great back-up. I am not sure Runar is just as good as him, but I think he can be a good back-up. Even though I do not remember Siggi, it is always nice to have an Icelandic player in Arsenal. Even though Olafur Ingi Skulason only played half a first team game we in Icelandic were very proud when he come on against Wolves in the league cup few years ago.
Hopefully Runar will do us proud as well!
Our thanks to Hilmar and you can hook up and follow the Iceland boys @ArsenalIceland
Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.