Mikel Arteta faces the prospect of being without his first-choice goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale for “a few weeks” due to a hip injury.
A surprising signing from Sheffield United last summer, Ramsdale has enjoyed a spectacular debut campaign at the Emirates, holding 12 clean sheets in 24 Premier League matches – surpassed only by the Brazilian pair of Ederson and Alisson (both 16).
Such a form has led to Ramsdale being hailed as a potential starter for England at the World Cup in Qatar later this year, and he was originally included in Gareth Southgate’s squad for matches against Switzerland and Ivory Coast later this month.
“He has an injury to his oblique muscle and he will be out for a few weeks,” Arteta confirmed before Arsenal’s match against Aston Villa on Saturday.
In a speech on BT Sport, former Arsenal defender Martin Keown supported Bernd Leno to effectively cover Arsenal’s No. 1. “It’s a loss. It’s not just the back four – people used to talk about our back four, and David Seaman was pretty magnificent – so you’re connecting.
“He’s a real character, but I feel like he [Bernd Leno] has the pedigree to come today. We have seen him play in the League Cup and the FA Cup and he has performed much better and he has a point to prove.
“He was the No. 1 goalkeeper and a lot of money was spent on replacing him, so he should have the character to handle this today.”
Ramsdale was not the only one absent from Arsenal’s squad at Villa Park as it shaped Gabriel Martinelli also missed out on illness.
“He’s been sick the last few days, so he’s sadly out of the squad.”
Arteta spoke at his pre-match press conference on Friday, offering Ramsdale his support after making a rare mistake during midweek defeat to Liverpool by allowing Diogo Jota’s shot to hit him at his nearest post.
“Oddly enough, he was worn out after the match,” Arteta said. “It’s normal because he’s such a competitive boy, but he has to realize that this is going to happen in your career. At this point, and if you play for the national team, you’ll probably have a moment where you do something, and then instead of part of the country, it will be the whole country (on your back).
“If you want to be at the top for 10, 15 or 20 years, you have to be prepared for it. It’s about how you react in those moments.
“He wants to be there the day after, he wants to go out and practice. He wants to see it. He is very critical of himself, so sometimes he needs help to put things in perspective, and for him to also realize how much he has contributed to the team. ”