Mikel Arteta praised for ‘genius’ decision which has turned Arsenal’s season around

Mikel Arteta defends Arsenal players after Claudio Ranieri accusation

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta pulled off a “stroke of managerial genius” by bringing Aaron Ramsdale into his team this season, claims AFC Wimbledon manager Wally Downes. Ramsdale is yet to lose in his nine appearances for Arsenal since joining from Sheffield United in the summer. Arteta was criticised by many Gunners supporters for the initial £24million deal for a goalkeeper who had been relegated in the past two seasons in the Premier League.

But Ramsdale has done more than enough to prove his doubters wrong.

The 23-year-old did not feature in any of the first three Premier League games of the season.

Arsenal lost all three of those matches with Bernd Leno between the sticks.

Ramsdale was brought in for the visit of Norwich in September and the Gunners have not lost since.

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Downes managed Ramsdale during his loan spell at AFC Wimbledon in 2019.

And he has hailed the impact he has had on the Arsenal defence.

“He instilled belief and purpose and he’s done the same at Arsenal,” Downes told MailPlus.

“He’s transformed their season because he’s engaged the rest of the defence.

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“He makes a great save and they’re high-fiving him and fist-bumping, proud not to let a goal in. I’ve not seen that in an Arsenal team for donkey’s years.”

Ramsdale has kept six clean sheets in his nine Arsenal appearances, conceding just four goals.

Downes says it has proved to be a hugely successful change from Arteta in dropping Leno in favour of Ramsdale.

“It was a stroke of managerial genius by Mikel Arteta because the season was getting away from Arsenal and the players they were relying on were letting them down,” he added.

“They had a team of young kids and bad role models.

“What they needed was someone with backbone who would not stand for it if others turned up late and did not put their bodies on the line. The kid is not afraid to do that. He’s a positive voice, very inclusive, and others feed off him.

“Maybe Arteta saw what he was like, put him in, and he’s changed the chemistry of the place.”

Ramsdale is in the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Albania and San Marino.

Arteta reckons Ramsdale can become his country’s No 1 by the time of the World Cup next year.

Arteta said: “I would say, I think when you dream big it is always positive.

“Keep your feet on the earth. There are people who make those decisions and he needs to be doing what he is doing every day – train the way he trains, look after himself the way he trains, have that mentality he has and put in performances. And the rest will come.”

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