Aaron Ramsdale says Arsenal can start to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City if performances regularly match the shift put in during today’s frustrating 2-1 defeat to Pep Guardiola’s league leaders.
While the 10-man Gunners were denied a point right at the death, the technical quality shown during the first half, not to mention the aggression both in and out of possession, should serve as a blueprint for upcoming tests against other big name rivals.
More than anything, the side clearly demonstrated their improvement following more ragged outings earlier in the season.
Speaking to Arsenal.com, Ramsdale reflected: “Huge amount of positives. Not too many teams have dominated Man City like that more in the first half than we did it.
“We played really well in the second half and we need to try and get over the line in one these big games, but at the start of the season when it’s 4-0, 5-0, Liverpool, City, today’s a massive step in the right direction.
“We need to win one of these games, but ultimately we know we’re not challenging with these guys at the moment, but on today’s basis, if we can put that in week in, week out, we can be.”
On the result, he added: “Yeah, it’s a tough one to swallow, we played so well, defended so well with 10 men, unlucky ricochet really and it falls to them and gets poked in. We’re deflated, but we’ve got to swallow it and move on because that’s football and we’ve got an important semi-final first leg coming up on Thursday.”
Like assistant coach Albert Stuivenberg, who led the team in the absence of Mikel Arteta who was forced into isolation after testing positive for Covid-19, Ramsdale was frustrated by the officiating and, in particular, the inconsistent use of the pitchside monitor to review contentious incidents.
“I felt it was soft,” said the goalkeeper of the decision to award a penalty for Granit Xhaka’s challenge on Bernardo Silva.
“The linesman said he didn’t think it was a penalty, but then they get told to go and check it by VAR. I’m more annoyed about the fact that they didn’t tell them to check ours in the first half on VAR. The referee might have said ‘no penalty’ anyway, but in game time, both times it was ‘no penalty’ for them and us, but he gets to go and check there’s and not ours. That’s where my frustration is, the inconsistency between one decision and the other.
He added: “The referee said no penalty, like you say goes to the screen, it’s slowed down and you can see things and stuff, but if that was given for us we wouldn’t be having this chat, but the fact that he’s been told to go and see the screen for one and not ours, that’s my frustration, because if he thinks it’s a penalty on the screen then it’s a penalty, but we didn’t actually get the chance to see ours.”