Aaron Ramsdale’s arrival at Arsenal was far from positive. For most fans, it seemed silly to spend £25m on a player that had been relegated twice and was not even guaranteed to start for his new side, let alone improve them. Three clean sheets in a week has silenced the doubters.
The Englishman has fought his way into the first team and improved the defence no end. After Bernd Leno conceded five goals at Manchester City in a completely lacklustre performance at the Etihad, Mikel Arteta decided to make several changes to his side, including in goal.
Ramsdale’s arrival into Arsenal’s first team coincided with the two of the easiest fixtures the Premier League has to offer in Norwich and Burnley, so it is important not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but he has already made a big impact. Against the Canaries, in what was a high-pressure match that could have turned into a disaster for the Gunners, he showed a level of maturity and composure way beyond his years.
At one point, when being chased down by the unrelenting Teemu Pukki, instead of panicking, he shimmied and sidestepped his challenge, before picking out an Arsenal man. This level of confidence spreads amongst his defence and allows them to have faith in the man between the sticks.
Although Bernd Leno isn’t bad with his feet, Ramsdale's footballing ability in terms of playing the ball out from the back far exceeds his German counterpart. If his performance against Norwich was a confidence booster, his one at Turf Moor was even better, and arguably the one that established him as Arteta’s number one.
He put in a Man of the Match performance which was massively praised by the travelling fans and onlookers, while he dealt with everything Burnley threw at him. For a side that is renowned for piling the pressure on opposition goalkeepers, especially from set pieces, they struggled to lay a glove on the young English keeper.
At one point, he claimed a high cross with great authority, and then kicked the ball out of his hands 60 yards so the ball landed next to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. That one piece of skill summed up exactly what he brings to this Arsenal side. And he has gained plaudits who know a thing or two about goalkeeping along the way.
“What was interesting was that Leno was in goal so I think that situation has been sorted out,” said Arsenal legend David Season after the Burnley win. “I think Ramsdale is now looking like he’s the No.1 goalkeeper. I’ve been impressed with him as well.
“His performances have been positive, he’s looked really confident and he’s not shown any nerves at all so it’s an interesting situation. With two wins, you’re not going to replace your goalkeeper are you?”
Ramsdale was also selected for the League Cup tie against AFC Wimbledon where he kept yet another clear sheet and now, ahead of the north London derby, Arsenal look to have a settled number one. Up against Harry Kane and co, this will be his toughest test so far but if he can come through this one unscathed, Arsenal may have finally found their long-term goalkeeper.
Arsenal are 13/10 to win with Betfred, while Spurs are 12/5. A draw at the Emirates can be backed at 12/5.