Aaron Ramsdale is flying after his performance against Leicester and England cap may not be far away

It was around the hour mark on Saturday, after yet another difficult save, that the Leicester supporters took over the challenge of attempting to break Aaron Ramsdale. Half their team had tried and failed, so why not?

It started with the usual baiting as Arsenal’s keeper took a free-kick, escalated to the argument that he was ‘just a s*** Jordan Pickford’, and from there progressed to something even more far-fetched. Namely, he would ‘never play for England’.

At one stage, with Leicester attacking relentlessly at 2-0 down, Ramsdale turned to face the choir behind his goal and laughed in their faces. Fair to say, they couldn’t get through to him, or through him, and nor could James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, Ademola Lookman, Kelechi Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy.

Aaron Ramsdale put in a superb performance in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Leicester on Saturday

Others tried as well, with 16 Leicester shots across the game, including the one from Maddison’s free-kick that you will have seen by now, but this was the sort of rare day in a keeper’s career when not a single grain from a handful of rice would have made it past.

When it was all done, he again faced some of those Leicester fans and gave them a theatrical bow.

A large chunk of them then applauded right back at him —excellence has a funny way of being tolerated, even in football, and that is what we are seeing in this most unlikely of contexts.

This being Ramsdale, of course. A relatively small keeper of 6ft 2in whose transfer fee of £24million from Sheffield United in August was the subject of one of those Arsenal melodramas. That much for a back-up keeper? Arsenal, they’ve long had their own brand of madness.

Ramsdale made one of the saves of the season from a well-struck James Maddison free-kick

Ramsdale made one of the saves of the season from a well-struck James Maddison free-kick 

Things change, it would seem. The team are unbeaten in nine in all competitions and Ramsdale has played seven of them. 

Of his eight games for Arsenal, he has never lost, has kept five clean sheets, and is now indisputably their No 1. With it being Arsenal, the potential for collective and individual implosion is boundless, but, for the time being, it is worth going back to one of those chants.

Never play for England? That dig is surely on borrowed time — he was in the squad for the European Championship and the next step is looking smaller by the game.

Now for that save from Maddison in the first half, because the act of contortion and flight that somehow saw him claw the ball on to the bar was really quite special. Peter Schmeichel said it was the best he has seen in years and the Premier League later put out a tweet that focused on some rawer numbers — only Edouard Mendy (89.7 per cent) has a higher save rate than Ramsdale’s 85.7 per cent.

The 23-year-old is yet to get a senior England cap but he may not have to wait for much longer

The 23-year-old is yet to get a senior England cap but he may not have to wait for much longer

Early days for grand declarations but he’s saved 24 of the 28 shots on target he has faced, and he is perhaps the most significant component of a defensive unit that has helped his club turn a corner.

Arteta chose cautious praise for the 23-year-old.

‘We invest money in talent and people we believe can be great for the future of the club,’ he said.

Mikel Arteta was cautious when asked about Ramsdale's performance against Leicester

Mikel Arteta was cautious when asked about Ramsdale’s performance against Leicester 

‘Aaron has had some encouraging performances, and against Leicester he made some incredible saves. He needs to continue to do that. In football, you need to play 50 games for 20 years, and this is only the start. When you dream big, it’s always positive.

‘He needs to be doing what he’s doing every day, train the way he does, work as hard as he does and look after himself. He also needs to have the mentality that he has, and good performances, and the rest will come.’

This win was secured through the early goals from Gabriel and Emile Smith Rowe. Out of the calamity of that 5-0 defeat against Manchester City in August, it would seem Arsenal have emerged with a reliable goalkeeper, an effective defence, brilliant, youthful wide players in Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, and a good striker in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. It will be interesting to see if all that adds up to a sustained top-four push, or another of those Arsenal false dawns.

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