‘We wanted to win for him’ – Ramsdale’s rollercoaster as Arsenal go top

Aaron Ramsdale

Eventually Aaron Ramsdale was able to break out into a relieved smile.

Ramsdale was not laughing, however, for most of the previous hour.

During that period it looked as though his error – hesitating on a backpass and seeing Brentford equalise when his eventual clearance was charged down by Yoane Wissa – would prove costly.

The 25-year-old looked distraught as he headed into half-time, and the contrasting nature of his emotions at the end of each half summed up a rollercoaster evening for the England keeper.

The high of a rare Premier League start was followed by the low of his mistake just before half-time.

But he recovered after the break to show his worth to the team, producing two saves from Ivan Toney and Nathan Collins which prevented Arsenal falling 2-1 behind.

Those stops proved pivotal as the home side went on to nick a late winner through Kai Havertz which surely left Ramsdale the most relieved man in Emirates Stadium.

“I’m really happy especially because he did exactly what he is, which is a person with huge personality and courage, very determined,” Gunners boss Mikel Arteta said.

“Errors are part of football. It’s how you react to it, especially for the keepers which is probably the most difficult position.

“He did so in an amazing way.

“I’m not surprised because the whole team and the whole stadium was behind him.

“He has earned that respect and admiration. We really wanted to win for him.”

How the dressing room rallied round Ramsdale

Had Havertz not rescued Arsenal, Ramsdale’s mistake might have have stopped Arsenal earning a statement win before title rivals Liverpool and Manchester City meet on Sunday at Anfield (15:45 GMT).

Perhaps it could have been even more detrimental long term.

The race between Arsenal, Liverpool and City is so tight it feels like any time one of the three challengers drops points, especially in a home game against a struggling side, it could decide the destination of the Premier League trophy.

After his goal secured victory, Havertz said the squad rallied round Ramsdale in the dressing room at half-time and moving on from the incident quickly is what helped them bounce back.

“Everyone in our team all made errors during the season. Sometimes when you are a goalkeeper it can look worse. We are all in this together,” said the Germany forward.

“We spoke about it in the dressing room at half-time and turned it around.

“It was tough for us – I think we handled it quite well. We conceded an unlucky goal but we believed and did it.”

Does Ramsdale’s mistake justify Arteta’s decision?

Arteta surprised many when he decided Arsenal needed another goalkeeper last summer.

Ramsdale had been the ever-present number one in Arsenal’s spirited title challenge last season, keeping 14 clean sheets and conceding 44 goals in 38 games – the second-lowest tallies in the top flight.

But Arteta believed his squad would be improved by Spain keeper David Raya, who arrived on a season-long loan from Brentford.

While Ramsdale did start the league campaign, he was swiftly replaced by Raya who appears to be preferred for his better distribution skills.

On Saturday, Ramsdale returned against Brentford to play in the Premier League for the first time since November’s reverse fixture and his sloppy error only served to underline Arteta’s stance on Raya becoming first choice.

Former Arsenal and England winger Karen Carney, covering the game as an analyst for Sky Sports, believes Wissa was emboldened to close down Ramsdale more quickly than he would have done if his former team-mate Raya was playing.

“Wissa trained every day with Raya last year and I’m not sure he’d have pressed him in the same way he did Ramsdale,” Carney said.

“We’ve seen all the stats that say Ramsdale is a brilliant shot-stopping goalkeeper, but the reason he is not in the Arsenal team is because of playing out from the back.”

Clearly Arteta had identified Ramsdale’s limitation in this crucial area integral to the way his side plays, and is why Raya will return as first choice when Arsenal go to Manchester City in their next Premier League game.

Ramsdale’s race may be run, but despite his error the Gunners are still in the thick of the most important race – to be crowned Premier League champions.

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