Opinion: Aaron Ramsdale impresses against Leicester City, but offers Arsenal much more than just stunning saves
Aaron Ramsdale was Man of the Match as Arsenal continued their recent good form in the Premier League with a 2-0 away win over Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. The 23-year-old's arrival at the Emirates Stadium in the summer raised eyebrows, but he now looks to be the goalkeeper Mikel Arteta needed.
“I said, goal” - Arteta in disbelief at 'incredible' save from Ramsdale
Arms up in the air, Brendan Rodgers was already celebrating James Maddison’s freekick hitting the back of the net and giving Leicester City a lifeline against Arsenal when Aaron Ramsdale, seemingly against footballing physics, managed to stop the ball from crossing the line via his own crossbar.
Peter Schmeichel called it the best save he’d seen in years with many drawing comparisons between the way Ramsdale made up so much ground and put out such a strong hand and the way the great Dane used to make similar saves on a regular basis for Manchester United back in the day.
This wasn’t Ramsdale’s only applause-worthy save of Arsenal’s 2-0 away win over Leicester City either. Indeed, the 23-year-old made a series of impressive stops including two from Ademola Lookman and Harvey Barnes in the second half that prevented the Foxes from climbing back into the contest at a critical time of the match.
Ramsdale made five saves against Leicester, more than in any other Premier League match he has played in his career. Six different Foxes players had a shot on target, yet not one of them found the net. Ramsdale has now kept a clean sheet in four of the seven Premier League games he has played this season and has yet to lose as an Arsenal player.
Ramsdale’s performance at the King Power Stadium showed why Arsenal signed him. At the time, the Gunners’ decision to sign the 23-year-old for £30m from relegated Sheffield United when they already had an established number one goalkeeper in Bernd Leno baffled many, but Ramsdale has quickly justified the outlay.
It’s not just that Ramsdale is making stunning saves. It’s that Arsenal are now a stronger defensive unit for having the England international between the posts with the Gunners recording clean sheets in each of their last two Premier League fixtures against Leicester City and Leeds United, opponents with significant firepower.
There appears to be greater lines of communication between the likes of Gabriel Magalhaes, Ben White and Kieran Tierney and Ramsdale than was ever the case with Leno as Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper. The former Blades number one is vocal in the way most top tier goalkeepers tend to be and is, by all accounts, a popular figure in the dressing room.
LEICESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 30: Aaron Ramsdale of Arsenal makes a save during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Arsenal at The King Power Stadium on October 30, 2021 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Image credit: Getty Images
Last season saw Leno make a number of mistakes when distributing the ball out from the back and this is another reason why Ramsdale has improved Arsenal as a unit - the Englishman is the better of the two goalkeepers with the ball at his feet. Mikel Arteta’s approach requires someone like Ramsdale to start passing moves.
“It’s very early to make a judgement of how good he is, but the way that he’s settled and what he can transmit on and off the pitch I think is really important,” Arteta recently explained when asked to assess Ramsdale’s impact. “He has engaged and he has adapted really well to the club. I think he’s getting a very good connection as well to our supporters and he’s performing well, which is the most important thing.”
That connection with the supporters Arteta references was clear in the way Ramsdale went over to the away support after full time against Leicester to thank them for their support while they chanted his name. Character might be an unquantifiable intangible in football, but Ramsdale looks to have the right one to handle being Arsenal number one.
With good reason, Ramsdale’s day at the King Power Stadium will be remembered for the number of eye-catching saves he made, particularly the one to deny Maddison a near-certain goal. However, there was more in his overall performance to suggest he’s the goalkeeper Arsenal have lacked for years. Ramsdale might not have been initially wanted by some, but it’s now clear he was needed.