Former Premier League goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has discussed the incredible improvement of Aaron Ramsdale since he signed for Arsenal in the summer.
The 23-year-old looks an exciting young talent who is improving all the time at the Emirates Stadium, having immediately come in to replace Bernd Leno as the Gunners number one ‘keeper.
Schwarzer, speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at its launch of the 5-A-Side Bet on Leicester v West Ham, admits he’s pleasantly surprised at how well Ramsdale has done since joining Arsenal, and listed a number of qualities that stand out about the England international.
Discussing Ramsdale’s progress, the former Middlesbrough, Fulham and Chelsea shot-stopper said: “For me, if things continue as they are between now and the end of this season, and Aaron Ramsdale continues to play as well as he has done, I think he has to get opportunities to start for England.
“He’s done an incredible job since joining Arsenal. Listen, he’s surprised a lot of people, myself included. You can look at his previous clubs, and while they gave him that all-important opportunity, you can say he was never really settled in a good enough team where he could regularly show what he could do at a high level.
“But he’s come in and replaced a German international at Arsenal within the space of three games. Bernd Leno is a seasoned pro, and a very good goalkeeper, so you have to take your hat off to Ramsdale. He must’ve heard a lot of the talk on social media around his price tag and all of that sort of thing, and what that shows you is that the young lad has an incredible amount of self-will and determination.
“He’s got a great mindset as well, clearly – to be able to use that criticism and take those question marks surrounding him and turn them into encouragement, and ammunition to prove people wrong.
“If anybody has an incredible amount of talent, and they’re at a team like Sheffield United who are being hammered every week – when I say hammered I mean under so much pressure – you’re going to shine; you’re going to stand out. But what he’s done now is take that to a whole different level.
“He’s gone to Arsenal and if anything, he’s improved dramatically since his move in the summer. He’s calmed down a bit, he’s got a platform to work on and he’s got a good balance between being involved quite a bit, because Arsenal still have their defensive issues and also showing us his ability with the ball at his feet. We didn’t really see that at Bournemouth or Sheffield United.
“For me, he’s a hybrid version of Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope, he’s got the best of both of their games – he’s improving his al-round game all the time, and for me that’s the most impressive thing about him.”
Arsenal fans will be pleased to hear this praise from a ‘keeper who was one of the finest in the Premier League at points in his career.
The former Australia international had some memorable moments and made many great saves in the top flight, though he also admitted he found it a bit daunting whenever he played against Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.
“I would never say I feared an opponent; I was never scared to play against anyone,” he said. “You just knew, though, that with certain players, it was an enormous challenge. In the case of Thierry Henry, for example, as a goalkeeper, you were actually most concerned about him the further away from your goal he was. It was when he was running away from goal, into his own half, receiving the ball and using the space he’d created to turn and run.
“What used to happen was that Arsenal were breaking, he’d drop in to get the ball, and then more often than not defenders just wouldn’t go with him. If anything, they’d keep dropping off. And then all of a sudden there’s all of this space for Henry to run into. Once he had that space and that opportunity to gain momentum, he was pretty much unstoppable.
“The problem was, he was just so good, it didn’t matter what you tried to do as a defender. You back off, and he’s running at you with momentum and there’s no stopping him. You follow him and he brushes you off and runs into the space you’ve left. He was that good; a big guy, strong, a classical player; I felt like I was watching ballet sometimes when I saw him on the pitch. He was just so smooth, elegant, quick, insane. It was insane how good a player he was.”