Aaron Ramsdale is proving a lot of people wrong right now, after keeping his third clean sheet in three games for Arsenal.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that I’ve never seen a negative reaction to a potential signing quite like the way people on social media reacted to Aaron Ramsdale.
I did have some concerns about the signing myself, as his statistics weren’t outstanding. Nor were they particularly poor, but from the Twitter reaction, you would’ve thought he was the worst goalkeeper in Premier League history.
The criticism, hate, and abuse grew as the signing edged closer, with trolls spilling into the replies on Ramdale’s Instagram page, forcing him to disable his comments.
I saw tweet after tweet of people tagging him and Arsenal on Twitter and telling him not to join, adding that they didn’t want him.
Arsenal took no notice. They got the deal over the line, and suddenly the atmosphere changed.
The hate towards Ramsdale was quelled by a few likeable moments after his signing. His excitement to join was clear in his interviews, the story of his grandfather’s ashes tugged at heartstrings, and at least a fair number of fans decided to at least give him a chance.
But the pressure was on. I have no doubt that if he’d capped his Arsenal debut with a mistake, the critics and trolls would’ve been back at it, smothering him with abuse.
Perhaps Ramsdale was a bit fortunate to make that debut against a weakened Championship side in West Bromwich Albion, who had rotated heavily for the League Cup clash.
Still, he kept his debut clean sheet, and he gave us further likeable moments by instantly developing a positive relationship with the fans. Unlike those online, the fans in the stands backed the goalkeeper from the first minute and sung his name throughout.
Don’t get me wrong, these are teams Arsenal really should be keeping clean sheets against. Ramsdale’s ability as a shot-stopper hasn’t been tested sufficiently, and I will not be surprised if he’s given a hugely more significant test in the derby next weekend.
At the same time, there are things Ramsdale has shown in his opening fixtures that should apply to any game, regardless of whether it’s against Norwich City, Burnley, or Tottenham Hotspur.
For a start, it’s clear that he’s more confident claiming crosses and playing out from the back than Bernd Leno.
Ramsdale has made five high claims in his two Premier League appearances, a total which puts him joint-fifth in the entire division, including goalkeepers that have played five games. Per 90 minutes, he’s second only to Brighton’s Robert Sanchez.
With the ball at his feet, he’s taken the kind of calculated risks Arteta needs him to take, and he hasn’t looked scared to do so. Some of his passes have required real quality and have got Arsenal going forward well.
It’s too soon to tell whether Ramsdale is ready and capable of being Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper throughout the season and beyond.
I can only say I was happy he started against Burnley, I felt more comfortable when crosses came in, and he certainly hasn’t let us down in his opening three games. If he was as bad as the trolls claimed, none of that would be the case.