On the one hand, there’s an inclination to jump on the Arsenal bandwagon.
The Aaron Ramsdale stats that suggest Arsenal's upswing could be a façade
While Mikel Arteta’s men are on the league’s longest unbeaten run at present, should their goalkeeper’s numbers raise eyebrows?
Mikel Arteta’s men have recovered from an incredibly awful start, where they lost three games on the trot, scoring none and conceding nine in defeats by Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City, to become the league’s in-form side.
Since suffering that hammering at the Etihad Stadium, the Gunners have picked up six victories and recorded two draws, racking up an unbeaten run that outdoes every Premier League side at present.
Two of those defeats have been on their travels, blemishes that stain the North London side’s record in their last nine away games. They have kept six clean sheets in their last nine on the road, with the recent three-game run demonstrative of their upswing.
It has been 16 years since Arsenal managed four straight shut-outs in the Premier League, a feat they aim to match at Liverpool on Sunday.
Key to their run of results has been the impressive Aaron Ramsdale, who has so far silenced doubters who questioned the club’s decision to bring in the former Sheffield United goalkeeper. There have been a series of impressive displays between the sticks, with the Leicester City showing in late October particularly catching the eye.
The Englishman made a staggering eight stops at the King Power Stadium as Arsenal held on to their 2-0 advantage to keep one of the shot-stopper’s five clean sheets—a tally bettered by Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy and Man City’s Ederson (both six).
Be that as it may, has the goalkeeper’s volume of saves masked loopholes in the Arsenal set-up and played down the broader inability to control games?
Of course, a closer inspection of Arsenal’s wins shows how they start games impressively to race into healthy advantages. This tilts the game state markedly, with the side chasing the game playing more on the front foot while the Gunners manage their advantage, notably as seen against Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa and, in particular, at Leicester.
However, and at the risk of coming off as pedantic, Arteta’s team have somewhat labored to manage games effectively at times, leading to Ramsdale coming up trumps a few times into his eight starts since early September.
Fbref, the 23-year-old ranks 10th among goalkeepers with five games or higher to average the most saves per 90, but the sheer impressiveness of his save percentage is out of this world.
Of the shot-stoppers in the top 10, only Ramsdale’s 86.2 percent ranks above 80 but the average goals against indicates a level of unsustainability.
Only the Arsenal stopper is averaging as low as 0.50 goals against per 90 — second to Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy — while Ederson completes the top three. However, the Brazil international faces significantly fewer efforts on goal per 90, comparatively watering down his brilliance.
With Ramsdale and Mendy, there is a feeling the pair are facing a significantly high volume of shots and their current first-class shot-stopping cannot be maintained before the inevitable lull sets in.
Having said that, a careful examination shows the majority of the Chelsea man’s stops came in games against Liverpool — where the Blues played 45 minutes with 10 men — Aston Villa and Brentford. On the other hand, Ramsdale has tended to be busier across a higher number of games in his short Arsenal spell.
Thus, it is no surprise Chelsea and Arsenal have the greatest disparity between goals conceded and expected goals against in the Premier League, with an overperformance of 6.86 and 4.83 respectively heading into the 12th round of fixtures this weekend.
Undoubtedly, Ramsdale’s start has been unforeseen and utterly brilliant, but do not be surprised by a mean reversion if Arsenal’s average game management persists.
Seye Omidiora is a passionate football writer and pundit whose deep appreciation for the beautiful game exceeds the usual. He is currently a columnist for Goal Africa and has previously written for Vital Football UK, IBCity Info and Opera News.
Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.