Arteta praises ‘exceptional’ Ramsdale as Arsenal prepare to take on West Ham | Arsenal

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Arteta praises ‘exceptional’ Ramsdale as Arsenal prepare to take on West Ham | Arsenal


  • Manager says keeper has come good ‘against the odds’
  • Eddie Nketiah likely to make his return on Sunday

Mikel Arteta has hailed the form of Aaron Ramsdale, describing his progress at Arsenal as “against the odds” and describing how the club supported the goalkeeper in the face of social media abuse after his arrival.

Ramsdale has been outstanding in Arsenal’s push for the title, most recently saving them a point at Anfield last Sunday with remarkable late stops from Mohamed Salah and Ibrahima Konaté. He has cut a commanding, charismatic figure who shapes much of the team’s buildup play, but Arteta harked back to a less certain spell earlier in the player’s career. Before moving to north London he was relegated from the top flight with Bournemouth and Sheffield United, meaning question marks sprung up externally when Arsenal paid the latter an initial £24m for him in August 2021.

“He has been really, really good and probably against the odds,” Arteta said. “Because when you look at his past and where he was coming from, he got relegated twice, it was difficult to imagine it. But we saw he had that character, charisma and personality to play for our club and he had the potential qualities to feed into our way of playing. When you see the development he had in the past two seasons I think he is exceptional.”

Some social media trolls had made up their minds about Ramsdale before watching him play for Arsenal and hurled invective his way as a result. Arteta and his staff had seen qualities others failed to detect, and he paid tribute to the way the 24-year-old has risen above the noise and proved doubters wrong.

“That abuse was happening just before he played his first game,” he said. “You haven’t even played and you’re getting that abuse. So you need to separate that, understand where it’s coming from and now start to do your job. And then you’re going to be judged for what you’ve done on the pitch and that’s a different kind of judgment.

Ramsdale made several remarkable late stops against Liverpool last Sunday. Photograph: Godfrey Pitt/Action Plus/Shutterstock

“It was tough, he needed some support and we had to protect him, but he was ready to handle that. He knew that was going to happen, we discussed that before: ‘You’re coming from this situation, you’re going to Arsenal and you’re going to have a lot of question marks over your head.’ And you have to do that. If not, obviously you go and pay £85m for a goalkeeper who’s won everything: you don’t have those questions, that’s a different story. We weren’t in that position.”

Speaking about the likelihood of abuse head on was, according to Arteta, the best way to form a shield. “First of all (we talked) about it,” he said. “‘This is coming, don’t react, be proactive and discuss it: expect it and get away from it. Don’t read it, that’s not going to help.’”

Ramsdale will take his usual place when Arsenal visit West Ham on Sunday. They can wait to see how Manchester City fare against Leicester first, but know another slip may well be costly to their ambitions. William Saliba remains absent with his back injury; Arteta hopes the defender will return in “the next few weeks”, their assignment with City at the Etihad on 26 April an obvious target for his comeback. Better news for the manager comes in the availability of Eddie Nketiah, who has been out for the past month with an ankle problem but should be among Sunday’s substitutes.

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