Eyebrows were raised when Arsenal spent big on a goalkeeper from a side who sank without trace in the Premier League last season, but just a few months into his Gunners career, fans are starting to see what the club saw in Aaron Ramsdale.
Having finished eighth in the Premier League last term, coach Mikel Arteta was tasked with rebuilding his squad in the transfer market ahead of the new campaign, to a mixed reaction.
Ramsdale’s arrival from Sheffield United, who finished bottom as it was relegated from the Premier League having shipped 63 goals, did not exactly whet many appetites in north London.
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The 23-year-old is already, however, proving the doubters wrong. His performance in Arsenal’s 2-0 win at Leicester City on Saturday, as it made nine unbeaten in all competitions, was impressive as fans may see from any goalkeeper all season.
“Best save I’ve seen for years from Ramsdale,” was the reaction from former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, whose son was in goal for Leicester, on Twitter after witnessing Ramsdale’s incredible stop to deny James Maddison at the King Power Stadium.
With Arsenal under pressure, Maddison’s curling effort looked destined for the top corner just before the break, where a goal could have swung the momentum of the match in Leicester’s favour – something that was not lost on Arteta.
“My reaction when I saw the ball leaving Maddison’s foot, I said ‘goal’,” Arteta said.
“I don’t know how it happened. It was incredible. And the timing of it as well was crucial.”
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Of the goalkeepers to have faced more than two shots on target this season, only Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy (89.7%) is enjoying a higher save percentage than Ramsdale (85.7%), who has saved 24 of the 28 shots on target he has faced.
The cameras in the stadium panned to Bernd Leno on the Arsenal bench after the save from Maddison, with the German having the look of a man who knows he faces a tough challenge to win his first-team keeper spot back.
It is not only his shot-stopping that Ramsdale is excelling at. Modern goalkeepers also need to be experts with the ball at their feet.
He is so well-trusted with his passing that an outfield player routinely takes a quick goal kick for Arsenal to Ramsdale so that he can then take the ball forward out of the area and pick out who he wants to pass to.
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Arteta is fully aware that he has a real asset on his hands.
“We invest money in talents that we believe can be great for the future of the club,” Arteta added. “And we made that decision (to sign Ramsdale) based on that.
“Aaron has had some really encouraging performances. Today he made some incredible saves. You can have some great games, but doing it for 20 years, that’s the challenge.
“He can dream big, and that is very positive.”