Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale had shown courage after getting away with two first-half errors in the side’s 1-0 Premier League victory at Brentford on Saturday.
Kai Havertz grabbed the spotlight with a late headed winner to send Arsenal top of the table but Ramsdale, given his first start in the league since September, was the talking point of the match.
Ramsdale’s demotion to the bench behind David Raya has caused some surprise but he was given his chance to shine and almost blew it in comical fashion in a stuttering first half.
He was caught in possession inside his own area and Bryan Mbeumo’s subsequent shot had to be cleared off the line by Declan Rice. Then he inexplicably threw the ball down into the turf as he tried to send it forward from his gloves.
Ramsdale recovered his poise in the second half but his display will not have filled Arteta with confidence.
However, the Spaniard sprang to Ramsdale’s defence.
“Courage. He has big courage and big personality and that’s what we need,” Arteta told reporters.
“This is football. I’m so happy with the team. The way the team performed with the clean sheet. We move on.”
Arsenal was not at its best and a draw would have been a fair result but Havertz, who came off the bench, sparked huge celebrations with his second goal of the season.
“That’s the beauty of it. If things come easy, you don’t value them. He’s an example for all of us to do what you have to do when you have difficulties,” Arteta said of the German forward who has not exactly hit the ground running since joining from Chelsea in the summer.
Arsenal has 30 points to champion Manchester City’s 29, with Liverpool on 28, and, although there is a long way to go, Arteta said hitting top spot was a good feeling, especially in what was his 200th game in charge of the club.
“I love winning and we are top of the table and this is where we have to want to be. For me as well it was a special day -- 200 games and I want to say thank you so much to everybody that makes my job so enjoyable,” the Spaniard said.
“Winter has started, it was very cold and it is difficult coming to Brentford and I loved the way the team competed, how we played.”
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