Arsenal

Aaron Ramsdale is now Arsenal's No.1 - no doubt about it

Craig Vickers
Ramsdale was a commanding presence between the sticks
Ramsdale was a commanding presence between the sticks / Stu Forster/Getty Images
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There was a moment deep into the second half, as Burnley's pressure reached its boiling point, where Arsenal looked poised to crack.

Crowding the box from a corner kick, Chris Wood, James Tarkowski and Ben Mee all stood tall in the six-yard box, ready to make their height advantage count and rehash all those familiar Arsenal narratives - being weak, a team of son-in-laws etc etc.

The parallels with the moment on the opening day of the Premier League season was stark. That evening, Brentford exploited Arsenal's aerial weakness when Christian Norgaard headed home from Mathias Jensen's long throw-in to double his side's advantage.

The enduring image from that night was Bernd Leno, gazing aimlessly at the flighted ball before appealing to the referee in vain. "Typical Arsenal," Jamie Carragher remarked on commentary.

Albert Sambi Lokonga
Arsenal hit rock bottom after their defeat at Brentford / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

A similar scenario threatened to unfold at Turf Moor. Instead, Aaron Ramsdale, drafted in after Arsenal's 5-0 thrashing at Manchester City prior to the international break, bustled his way through the traffic to collect the ball. He immediately went to ground clutching the ball, as he collected the adulation of his teammates.

The moment capped off a fine display from Ramsdale, assured when asked to make saves and decisive in his distribution from the back. It was everything Arsenal fans had longed for since Leno's form has nosedived from his debut season in north London.

The 23-year-old began the game with very little to do, but by the end Arteta - and Ben White - was indebted to Ramsdale's composure as Burnley cranked up the pressure in the second half.

Sean Dyche's side thought they had won a penalty midway through the second half when White underhit his back pass back to the Arsenal goalkeeper. Anthony Taylor initially pointed to the penalty spot but the Gunners' faithful breathed a huge sigh of relief when the decisions was correctly overturned. Amid the frenzy, the replays merely reinforced that Ramsdale had come to White's rescue with his speed off his line, arriving to meet the ball at the perfect moment as Vydra attempted to round him.

Ramsdale also saved expertly from Burnley new boy Maxwel Cornet, tipping his close-range shot over the bar. As the clock ticked deep into stoppage time, the overriding feeling was that Burnley could play for another three hours and Ramsdale would still have his clean sheet intact.

The result, won through Martin Odegaard's sublime free-kick in the first half, made it two wins from two for Arteta since league action resumed following the international hiatus. Crucially, too, it also marked successive clean sheets for Arteta's side, a feat they haven't achieved since January.

Questions were raised when Arsenal pushed hard for the signing of Ramsdale from Sheffield United. After all, he was a fixture in a team which conceded 63 goals and finished bottom of the Premier League last term.

Football, however, is rarely that black-and-white, and already Arsenal are beginning to reap the rewards of digging deeper between the lines. Ramsdale was highly rated by the Sheffield United faithful and was inevitably going to be improve in a side who afford their opponents less of the ball each week.

Martin Odegaard, Aaron Ramsdale
Ramsdale celebrates Odegaard's decisive goal / Stu Forster/Getty Images

What will please a football purist in the ilk of Arteta the most, however, was the moment shortly after the interval when Ramsdale's raking punt downfield dropped perfectly into the path of Aubameyang to spring a dangerous counter-attack. The Arsenal boss derives just as much satisfaction from his goalkeeper breaking the opposition's defensive lines as he does thwarting a one-on-one deep into the second half.

Ramsdale didn't have to do the latter but he was called to Arsenal's rescue on a few big ocassions. In an imperfect performance which threatened to unearth the Gunners' soft underbelly, Ramsdale flexed his muscles.

The No.1 jersey is now Ramsdale's to lose at Arsenal.

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