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Ram Home the Support

By Sumaiya Vawda

Aaron Ramsdale: man of the people, protector of Arsenal’s goal-frame. Also, camera stuntman and championship-grade flop. The goalkeeping position is such that one’s hero status can be cemented or revoked within the most crucial few minutes of a season. With the season’s end beckoning, what overall taste will Ramsdale leave on the lips of Arsenal fans?

The English goalkeeper has experienced a topsy-turvy recent run following a dream start to life in North London. Most believed the 23-year-old would serve as Leno’s deputy with an eye to the future. Yet, Ramsdale usurped the German by the 4th gameweek of the campaign. His driving passes into midfield, acrobatic saves and crowd antics enamoured him to the sceptical Emirates faithful. However, a hip injury struck in mid-March when he seemed primed to overtake Jordan Pickford in the International pecking order.

Since the injury, the youngster’s performance level has been swaying. In the game at Stamford Bridge, Ramsdale agonisingly reacted slowly to Timo Werner’s deflected effort. Against United, he punted a pass straight to Nemanja Matic which led to a dangerous opportunity for the Red Devils. In the same game, he made a fabulous save to deny Diogo Dalot at the near-post. These rollercoaster performances may be a product of his instinctive style of play which he discussed on Ben Foster’s podcast.

Ramsdales’s post-shot xG per shot minus goals conceded indicates that Arsenal’s defence is limiting him to the lowest shot quality in the league but he is underperforming. Much of this stems from his mid- to late season wobble in form. A string of smaller errors raises the question of whether a thought process needs to be coached into such a young goalkeeper. On occasion, Ramsdale is seen to throw his body weight to one side in early anticipation of a shot. When the team has been challenged, his passing either becomes pedestrian or frenetic- he notably kicked the ball out of play under little pressure a few times against United.

Positively, he is statistically the 5th best goalkeeper at 1v1 situations in the league this season. Poor form has coincided with injury and the loss of Tierney and Partey. Evidently, the lad from Stoke-on-Trent performs optimally with a settled back four in front of him. When the team plays with certainty, a confident Ramsdale emerges. We’ve seen the return of this character with strong claims from corners and an outstanding save from a Declan Rice header against West Ham.

Overall, lapses this season are overshadowed by memorable saves and breathtaking distribution. There is yet uncertainty over his ultimate level relative to other goalkeepers, but Arsenal’s number 32 has time to iron out his flaws. Aaron Ramsdale will undergo growing pains before Arsenal fans. That is simply the truth of a young goalkeeper adapting his game to a new side. The hope is that a confident Ramsdale completes this season and supports his defence well.

Despite his inconsistency, there is so much about him for which to root. When he celebrated Bruno Fernandes’ penalty miss, as if overcome by the energy of Martin Keown, one could not help but celebrate with him. His technical ability seems to shine most when he can feed off the crowd’s energy. So I say, support the goalkeeping mania!

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