After a disappointing start to the season which saw them lose three games on the trot while conceding a combined total of nine goals, Arsenal seem to have finally picked themselves up and found a winning formula. While the recent limelight has been gathered by Arsenal’s neighboring clubs in London for different reasons, the Gunners have slipped under the radar and made huge strides, climbing up the Premier League from bottom place in August to sixth place at the start of November. They are currently on an impressive seven-game undefeated run in the league, grabbing 17 points with five wins, two draws, and three losses to their name.
Multiple reasons can be attributed to Arsenal’s recent resurgence in the league. One of the reasons which was perhaps overlooked up until the Gunners’ last weekend 2-0 defeat of Leicester City was the arrival of Aaron Ramsdale between the sticks.
Arsenal came under heavy criticism from fans and pundits alike for their summer transfer business, many of them highlighting the pointlessness of spending £24 million on a backup goalkeeper. Although Bernd Leno’s poor form at the beginning of the season followed by a stretch of seven Premier League games where Ramsdale replaced Leno as the man between the sticks seems to have allayed those criticisms. While Arsenal’s recent defensive solidity can be attributed to the partnership of Ben White and Gabriel in the defense, combined with Thomas Partey finding his best form, the contributions of Ramsdale cannot be understated. Ever since Ramsdale became Arteta’s first-choice goalkeeper, the Gunners have conceded just four goals in seven league games. The record is even more impressive when you contrast it with conceding nine goals in three games.
There have been multiple reports that Ramsdale was scouted by the Gunners since 2020. Given Arteta’s tactics in most games which requires the team to build up from the back, Arteta wanted a goalkeeper comfortable with the ball at his feet. While he is not the most technically sound keeper in the league, Ramsdale has nonetheless displayed his ability to pick out short passes. Combine that with his precise throws, impressive shot-stopping, quick reflexes, and animated personality, and Arsenal have a player at their hands who seems ready to take the mantle of the first-choice goalkeeper.
Let’s analyze Ramsdale’s stats to see just how crucial he has been in the Gunners’ recent revival in form.
Ramsdale’s performance in the game against Leicester City was a spectacle. He made a total of eight saves during the game, which also included the brilliant double save to prevent Leicester from getting into the score sheet before the break. Ramsdale displayed his athleticism by denying Maddison a chance to score from a free kick. He dove towards the left side of the goal just in time to push Maddison’s swerving and dipping shot off the crossbar. Following the spectacular save, Ramsdale displayed his awareness and agility by putting his body between the ball and a diving Johnny Evans before it was cleared off the line.
In the previous game, although his passing accuracy was low, Ramsdale was still able to create the fifth-highest xT from passes and he was second highest in terms of passes. He has made a total of eight appearances for Arsenal and has kept four clean sheets while facing 28 shots, saving 24 of them. During the same space of eight games, he has ranked among the top in terms of save percentage.
From the above chart, we can see the expected threat carried by Ramsdale’s passes to his teammates, with the highest xT created from the passes made to Aubameyang.
From the above visual, we can see Ramsdale’s impressive distribution of the ball. In addition to his shot-stopping abilities, Ramsdale is a capable distributor of the ball. His launched passes up the pitch are often accurate, while he is also adept at playing short passes. In addition, he helps to start the counter-attacks for his team by picking out his teammates in a good position and throwing the ball quickly towards them.
Although he is still 23, Ramsdale has been maturing as a goalkeeper at a remarkable speed, given that goalkeepers tend to mature at a later age than other outfield players. If his performances till now are any indication, then Arteta will continue to trust Ramsdale with the role of Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper. His brilliant display between the sticks has allowed Arsenal to plant their feet back in the Premier League firmly and they look in a much better position than where they were at the start of the season.