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Arsenal Season Recap: Aaron Ramsdale

The Gunners new keeper quickly became a fan favorite this season.

Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Aaron Ramsdale had quite the season at Arsenal. He started the year with relegated Sheffield United before being purchased by Arsenal on August 24th for £30M after weeks of transfer speculation. He was handed the starting job coming out of the first international break and firmly grabbed a hold of the role. He kept 12 clean sheets on the season, good for 5th best in the Premier League, although well behind leaders Alisson and Ederson, who posted 20 apiece.

Season Summary: It was a tale of two seasons for Ramsdale. He was fantastic in the first half and performed slightly below expectations in the second half. It’s impossible to say exactly how much of that difference is on Ramsdale not playing as well and how much is attributable to the losses of Kieran Tierney, Takehiro Tomiyasu, and Thomas Partey to injury. The answer likely lies somewhere in the middle. Ramsdale didn’t look as sharp in the back half of the season, but the team wasn’t playing as well in front of him, either. I suspect that his play down the stretch was affected by the injury that forced him out in March, too. Even though he was fit enough to play, I would not be surprised if he was slowed / hampered by that hip injury.

Ramsdale was a definite upgrade over Bernd Leno in terms of cross-claiming and command of the penalty area. He’s better on the ball and has better distribution, part of which includes simply having a stronger leg than Leno and the ability to drive the ball further up the field on long passes / clearances. His rebound control needs work. Anecdotally, it did seem as if he opted to parry the ball away on a number of shots that he might have caught. The good news is that Ramsdale is 24-years old. That’s incredibly young for a keeper, a position at which players typically peak between 27 and 29 and can maintain elite levels of play well into their 30s.

Ramsdale quickly became a fan favorite after taking the starting job. He’s a vocal leader from the back and wears his heart on his sleeve on the pitch. He gets fired up by big saves, is the first to congratulate his defenders for making a big play, and didn’t hesitate to get in the middle of things when tempers rose. His teammates clearly responded to that, as did the fans. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s got a great smile that he loves to flash and that he’ll engage in a bit of banter with the opposing supporters. He’s easy to like.

Season Grade: B+

The regression down the stretch keeps Ramsdale’s grade from being higher. He was among the most important, best-performing Arsenal players in the first half of the season, which was enough to move the mark up a touch from the “B” I originally had for him.

‘22-’23 Outlook: I’m optimistic Aaron Ramsdale will recapture the early season form that put him in the conversation as one of the best in the Premier League. He’ll start the season with a healthy defense in front of him (fingers crossed) that will have added William Saliba to the rotation. Arsenal will (hopefully) have more of the ball and score more as a result of the attacking additions, too. A better, more productive team in front of him, theoretically, concedes fewer and lower quality chances, which should help buoy Ramsdale’s numbers. A rising tide lifts all boats, right?

Ramsdale is solidly Arsenal’s #1 keeper next season, backed up by new addition Matt Turner. It would take something catastrophic for those roles to reverse.