Why Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got mad at Aaron Ramsdale as Gabriel maintains Arsenal record
Arsenal prove themselves against a rival
Ahead of this game, Arsenal’s eight-game unbeaten streak was treated with some suspicion.
Yes, the Gunners hadn’t lost since August, but they had alone played the likes of Crystal Palace and Brighton, while their most emphatic performances had come at home against underperforming teams at Aston Villa and Tottenham.
But ahead of a trip away from a team that will no doubt be rivals for a European place and the end of this season, there could be little doubt that this was the biggest test of recent Mikel Arteta’s team race.
After just 18 minutes, Arsenal seemed well placed to pass it thanks to goals from Gabriel and Emile Smith Rowe which capped a sublime start.
Brendan Rodgers ‘side simply couldn’t keep up with the Gunners’ intensity and quick start, and it wasn’t until just before half-time that the Foxes made any progress in the game.
The second half, however, showed a different kind of test for Arsenal who were asked to show the defensive side of their game after showing their effective attack.
The bottom line held out, however, and won another clean sheet. When asked if this was the most complete performance he’s seen on his side this season, Arteta admitted it had been up there at times.
“In some phases of the game, probably yes,” he said when asked if this was the best he had seen.
“Because of the opponent we had in front of us and coming here is difficult. I’m really happy with the courage we showed from the start, to be dominant and to impose the game we want to play.
“And there were times when we had to suffer, they came to us, they changed formation, created problems.
“We had to dig in and needed some great individual performances to get through those moments. Then we were able to regain control and obviously were able to score the second. Overall I’m really happy.”
The result lifted Arsenal to fifth place at the end of the game, meaning the Gunners look well positioned for a Europa League push.
With Manchester United’s poor form and Arsenal’s continuous improvements, it could even be a challenge for the Champions League.
100 appearances for Saka
It sounds crazy to think for a player who is only recently 20, but Saturday’s game marked a 100th Arsenal appearance for Bukayo Saka.
Very few people would have told the truth when they saw a rather shy-looking 17-year-old step onto the pitch in a Europa League clash against Vorskla in a frigid Ukraine that Hale Ender would be at this point today. ‘hui.
But the youngster has made a habit of defying expectations in his short career so far and showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
He started his centenary outing on a high note with an assist for Gabriel’s goal. Excellent wedge deliveries are now the last string he added to his bow.
The England international then played a key role in the goal of Emile Smith Rowe who descended to the right and returned to Alexandre Lacazette whose shot eventually rebounded for Croydon De Bruyne to come home.
Like one of their own, he’s adored by Arsenal fans who watch him every week.
The song of “Saka and Emile Smith Rowe” to the tune of Status Quo’s Rock the world over – a recent favorite of traveling supporters could be heard reverberating around the King Power.
Full time, Saka has gone to lead the Gunners loyalists in their adulation towards him, once again demonstrating the close bond he feels with his supporters.
It’s amazing to think that there are people out there who still underestimate the 20-year-old.
“I am very proud to be here and to say that today I will play my 100th game for Arsenal,” Saka said ahead of the game. We can say that he is not the only one.
Gabriel continues his beautiful record
Much of the talk around this game will rightfully surround Aaron Ramsdale – and there will be a lot later, don’t worry – but it shouldn’t overshadow Gabriel’s phenomenal display.
There weren’t too many terrifying moments at the start of the game, but when the Brazilian got injured Arsenal fans as a collective saw their hearts leap to the back of their mouths.
He had a mixed start to life in England, winning the player of the month title in his first three months after leaving Lille before finding himself moved by Pablo Mari for the Europa League semi-finals against Villarreal.
The 23-year-old was out for the first three games of the season with a knee injury, but since returning from the first international break he has been sublime.
The Brazilian is arguably the most important part of the Gunners’ backline at the moment, not only because of what he brings to the individual sense, but also how he helps his other teammates.
At times Nuno Tavares was caught out of position, but with Gabriel’s pace and strength, there was no need to be afraid.
Leicester – and Jamie Vardy in particular – have scored goals galore against Arsenal in recent seasons but there was no way for them today, such was the cohesion of the Gunners’ defense, within which the former Lille central defender is the undisputed leader.
His passion for the game is contagious and after the game he could be seen running towards the fans before throwing his jersey into the crowd and celebrating wildly.
It is no coincidence that since Gabriel’s return to the squad, Arsenal have yet to lose in the Premier League and have kept four clean sheets in seven matches.
The £ 27million paid for him last summer is growing into a bargain every week.
Ramsdale’s eventful day
Aaron Ramsdale had had a relatively calm day by his own standards until his game suddenly came to life with perhaps the biggest save produced by an Arsenal Premier League-era goalkeeper instantly outspoken by James Maddison.
It wasn’t just the incredible speed in reaching the ball that instantly seemed out of reach, but the ability to have a hand strong enough on the ball to get it back out of goal.
Fans were dismayed and went silent for the first time in the first half, and it turns out they weren’t the only ones who were in awe. Mikel Arteta added to the general amazement atmosphere with his post-match assessment.
“My reaction when I saw the ball leave Maddison’s foot I said ‘goal’,” said the Spaniard. “I don’t know how it happened.
“It was amazing and the timing and timing for us was crucial.”
It would have been more than enough in the day for most goaltenders, but Ramsdale’s afternoon was far from over.
In the second half, he started playing the role of pantomime villain to Leicester fans who immediately clashed with him after an altercation with Jonny Evans when the North Irish defender left a leg in a collision as the two were going for an air balloon.
It was yet another example of the 23-year-old’s dominating presence in the box, but it was with his feet that Ramsdale once again showed a facet of his game that Arsenal desperately lacked.
As Leicester looked to squeeze high in the second half, the England Under-21 international has repeatedly shown an ability to play a midrange ball over and directly into the striker with a precision that was lacking in Bernd Leno.
These passes were flawlessly accurate in the first half and drew constant applause from Alexandre Lacazette who was more than happy to receive the ball.
However, once the Frenchman left and Ramsdale was distracted by his ongoing battle with fans, his passing started to get a bit more temperamental.
It drew the ire of his manager and captain, Arteta and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shouting in disapproval against the Arsenal stopper.
It is this inconsistency that Ramsdale must iron out in his game if he is to realize his ambition of becoming England’s number one.
“When you dream big, it’s always positive,” Arteta said of Ramsdale’s ambitions with his country. “Keep your feet on the ground, there are people making these decisions and he has to do what he does every day.
“Train like he trains, take care of him like he does and perform well. The rest will come.”
It hasn’t been a good start for Arsenal as Mikel Arteta looks to stop the slide
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In fairness to the 23-year-old, this is a rudimentary choice in what has been a much better start to his career at Arsenal than anyone realistically expected.
Five clean sheets in eight appearances is a fantastic record, and if he’s able to stay focused, Ramsdale can continue to achieve whatever he is aiming for and more.