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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Aaron Ramsdale comes of age at the perfect time for Arsenal

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From Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – There was much confusion around Arsenal’s dogged and determined pursuit of Aaron Ramsdale in the summer of 2021.

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He had been relegated in back-to-back seasons with Bournemouth and Sheffield United, shipping 125 goals in the process. Sure, his distribution was decent, but did that really warrant a big-money move to one of English football’s major clubs?

Ramsdale got off to a flyer in north London, coming into the side just as Arsenal embarked on their first winning run of the 2021/22 season. Fans appreciated his confidence and charisma, while he seemed to be uttering in an age where character and aura became important attributes.

There were still question marks over his shot-stopping, though. Whenever Arsenal suffered a negative result, you were always left wondering if Ramsdale could have done more on his part, whether he had sidestepped one way too early, if he had reacted a decisive fraction too slowly.

What was a strength of Ramsdale’s was also being perceived as a weakness. Was his over-exuberant style whipping himself into too much of a frenzy? Were his defenders put off even a little by his chaos?

These were all relevant even midway through Arsenal’s current title charge. But now it feels like Ramsdale has finally reversed this trajectory.

The Gunners ran out 2-0 winners at north London rivals Tottenham on Sunday, securing their first ever win at Spurs’ billion-pound stadium. After a fast first-half, Arsenal had to dig in deep after the break to hold off a fightback from the hosts.

Everyone played their part, but few more so than Ramsdale, finally delivering a highlight-reel performance that wasn’t just him celebrating and kissing the badge. Even then, he got into a scuffle with Richarlison and was kicked by a Spurs fan post-match – obscenities now, but the kind that will endear him to the Arsenal faithful.

If you were looking at areas in which Mikel Arteta could improve his side, a goalkeeper would have been near the top of positional needs (even if that was never going to happen). Ramsdale is now threatening to make such a thought outdated and extinct.

Arsenal are now eight points clear atop the Premier League standings, the title theirs to lose, a field of challengers with far more obvious weaknesses and chinks in their armour. Their goalkeeper stepping up to become one of the division’s elite stoppers would be a welcome bonus.

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