Preparing for Arsenal to host Norwich in the Premier League, the calls for a change in personnel weren’t anywhere near as loud anywhere as they were in goal.
Fielding five of his six summer additions for the 1-0 win, none stood out more than Mikel Arteta’s decision to hand Aaron Ramsdale a league debut following his £24m arrival from Sheffield United.
Or, should we say £30m since, it would seem, that this might be a change to last a little longer than anticipated? After all, various add-ons in Ramsdale’s signing centre around his involvement in the first team.
With Bernd Leno having been away with Germany over the international break, putting Ramsdale in for some minutes on home soil against the weakest opposition in the league wouldn’t have been the gigantic shock it may have seemed.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta’s comments hint strongly at Aaron Ramsdale taking over from Bernd Leno as the number one goalkeeper sooner than anticipated
Speaking after the game, however, Arteta’s words didn’t hint towards this being a one off move. Without stating it outright, it appears as if Ramsdale’s clean sheet outing might be the start of a long spell in goal.
“I had to make decisions and I felt Aaron was the right one to do so and like in any other position, and that is what we decided today,” Arteta said.
Going on to praise his energy, chemistry, reactions and body language, he couldn’t have been any more glowing in his assessment. That doesn’t sound like a goalkeeper who is going to be replaced in the team any time soon.
We’ll know more come Burnley, but it feels as if Arteta has made the decision to stick with Ramsdale moving forward. And, truthfully, it’s a surprising move purely down to how quickly it’s been taken.
Envisaged a gradual changing of the guard, when the transition would be made was expected to be later in the season or when Leno’s form might have dipped to new irreversible levels. Considering it wasn’t his fault Arsenal conceded five against Manchester City, the German might feel hard done by.
Nobody can argue against the impression Ramsdale has made in his two outings, constantly barking orders at his defenders and instilling a greater sense of composure and structure into the team, so if he’s playing well, play him. Simple, really.
How Leno reacts to this, if it is indeed a permanent decision, will be interesting to see. Everyone fully expects him to be moved in the summer, but might that be fast-tracked to January if this persists? Will Leno be consigned to Carabao Cup matches now? It’s an interesting point to look at.
Still, we didn’t expect to see it unfold so soon. Then again, he cost £30m and is going to be the number one at some point, so why not?