Eyebrows were raised when Arsenal spent £30million on Aaron Ramsdale over the summer – especially when it looked like the goalkeeper would only be playing back-up to Bernd Leno.
Rival fans could not help but laugh at the the Gunners, having suffered their lowest Premier League finish since 1995 after placing eighth last term, for signing a back-up keeper at such a high price considering he was coming from a Sheffield United side that finished rock bottom in the top flight last season.
Those cackles looked justified too when after the first three games of the season, Mikel Arteta’s side were propping up the division themselves having not scored a goal and with Ramsdale indeed only being able to look on from the bench.
Aaron Ramsdale has burst onto the scene at Arsenal following his £30million summer move
Ramsdale has taken just three Premier League games to displace Bernd Leno (right) from No 1
But following the September international break and a 5-0 hammering at Manchester City, Arteta was quick to axe Leno and hand Ramsdale his chance – and he has been rewarded with three clean sheets in four games and an unbeaten run to go with it.
Admittedly Ramsdale isn’t the only factor behind Arsenal’s upturn in fortunes but he has played a big part in it having only conceded one goal.
Even that was only a consolation, with Son Heung-min scoring for Tottenham in Arsenal’s 3-1 north London derby victory.
More noteworthy from the game was Ramsdale’s excellent save to deny Lucas Moura the chance to make it a nervy finish at the Emirates Stadium by pushing his effort onto the crossbar.
In four matches, the only Premier League goal Ramsdale has conceded has come against Tottenham in which the Gunners still went on to record a comfortable 3-1 victory
During the north London derby Ramsdale made a stunning late save to keep Spurs at bay
It allowed Arsenal to see out the game, and for the 23-year-old a quick way to get into the good books among Gunners fans following his crucial contribution in the win over their bitter rivals.
The keeper only enhanced his reputation six days later when with Arsenal hanging on to a 0-0 draw at Brighton, he showed tremendous agility to leap off his line and intercept a header across goal which would have otherwise allowed Neal Maupay to tap home for the Seagulls.
One supporter on social media admitted that the save had changed his perceptions about the keeper having been lukewarm on his arrival at the Emirates.
The fan said: ‘That is an amazing reflex save from Ramsdale. He really has impressed me. Didn’t know he was this good #BHAARS.’
Other supporters have echoed similar sentiments having been left thoroughly impressed at his start for the club.
The keeper was also praised for a crucial interception in the draw at Brighton & Hove Albion
A fan added: ‘We were so wrong about Aaron Ramsdale. Worth every penny.’ While another supporter said: ‘I think it’s fair to say Ramsdale has been a much better signing for Arsenal than we all expected.’
The stats back it up too. While Leno needed 20 games to secure his first three Arsenal clean sheets, it’s taken Ramsdale just four to reach the same total.
While Leno has been making more saves per game, Ramsdale has looked much more assured between the sticks, conceding at an average of just 0.3 goals per game compared to the alarming three that his German team-mate was allowing to slip past.
It’s not just Leno that he is outperforming but every other keeper in the Premier League too.
Since making his Premier League debut with Bournemouth in 2019 he has made more saves than any other goalkeeper with 285.
Arsenal’s have conceded far fewer goals with Ramsdale in the side – graphic from SofaScore
This season, at 90 per cent he has the best save percentage of any stopper to have made more than three appearances.
Those numbers were too much for Gareth Southgate to overlook, having included him in his preliminary squad for Euro 2020 before axing him from the final 23 – only to recall him for the finals following the withdrawal of Dean Henderson.
Such is his fine start at Arsenal, he was under consideration to be given an international debut in the World Cup qualifier against Andorra on Saturday after being called up as he now looks to challenge Everton’s Jordan Pickford for the No 1 spot.
It’s not just supporters who he has found favour with either, but past Arsenal heroes including former midfielder Ray Parlour.
‘He’s got such self confidence,’ Parlour told talkSPORT. ‘He had a really good game against Spurs, he has started his career very well.
Mikel Arteta has been delighted with the displays of his summer arrival from Sheffield United
‘You spend a lot of money on him but he looks a very confident lad. He knows if he can keep playing well for Arsenal he’ll be right up there. Once he gets his opportunity for England, who knows?
Manager Arteta meanwhile is understandably not as surprised as many over Ramsdale’s early displays, having admitted the Gunners put a lot of research in finding his suitability to the club.
‘The way we decided to recruit Aaron was to go through a big process where obviously we wanted to know a lot about his personality, his character and the way he could handle the big pressure of playing for a big club,’ Arteta said.
‘He’s showing that he’s ready to do that. I’m really happy with his performances and what he’s bringing to the team and it’s another reason why the team has made it difficult to concede goals.’
The last word goes to Ramsdale himself who believes he is at his best when he is most under pressure.
Ramsdale’s excellent Arsenal form has earned him a call-up into the England squad
Ramsdale (right) will now be hoping to displace Jordan Pickford (right) as No 1 for England
While he looks set to miss out to Sam Johnstone in Andorra, it won’t put him off trying to challenge the West Brom keeper or Pickford for the coveted England No 1 jersey.
‘When I came in, I got told to be myself,’ Ramsdale said. ‘My character is to be loud, be a leader and show passion. I also knew that I might have to shake things up in a positive way and my own way.
‘I think it is well documented that they were missing leaders but I don’t think we’ve all turned into leaders all of a sudden. The team that is playing at the moment is just full of confidence and working well together. We’re all leaders in our own way. The bigger the pressure the more I thrive.
‘I have the self-belief that, yes, I could hold down the position [of England No 1],’ he added. ‘First and foremost, I have to get in the team and that’s one of my goals at the moment. I’m just trying to learn and take it step by step but over time that’s one of my aspirations.’