What’s Glove Got To Do With It?
We are all aware that the majority of us fans are a fickle bunch. And in the post-Wenger years, this is even more abundantly true.
But are we shortsighted too?
Because there is an increasing amount of tweets, posts and general discontent in the cyber ether aimed squarely at Bernd Leno – and a huge amount of hyperbole revolving around new goalie Aaron Ramsdale after just a handful of games.
Yep, that’s right. The same Aaron Ramsdale that the large majority of us were unconvinced by when he first appeared on our radar this summer.
But now, after two clean sheets in his first two games, Ramsdale should be our Number One and Leno isn’t fit to wear the gloves?
Can we all take a step back and listen to this from a different perspective?
This is the same Bernd Leno who was nominated – and rightfully so – for our Player of the Year award after quite literally saving us time and again as we surfed the waves of mediocrity. The German pulled off saves that were aligned with what he is on his best days, which is among the best in the Premier League. Allisson and Ederson aside, Leno can stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone in the PL.
His highlights reel is a one-man superhuman show. Of course, that is exactly what a highlights reel is for. So let’s look at the other factor that decides a keeper’s fate.
We Gooners are extremely well-versed in keeper calamities. Before Leno arrived, we had suffered for years with goalies that enjoyed a brain-fart or twelve. So we can fairly judge when a keeper is making too many and the seriousness of such mistakes.
And can you honestly say Leno has made as many as Szczesny did? Or Fabianski?
Leno has been beaten at his front post a few times, but that aside and a few weak punches, Leno hasn’t truly gifted any goals – and if my memory fails me and he has, the ratio is far lower than he gets credit for.
If you were to read the feedback on social platforms, you would think Bernd Leno was the reincarnation of Manuel from Fawlty Towers.
But if you take a step back, you can see that Leno is reliable. We don’t suffer palpitations whenever a pass is aimed back to him. We don’t clutch prayer beads when a ball is whizzed into the box.
Then we come to Ramsdale. The kid has turned most people’s opinions around with two (at the time of writing) very solid performances to get our season back on track. He has enamoured himself with the fans thanks to his passion for the club and for his innocent glee at signing for us, bringing his whole family to celebrate the moment.
It’s clear he isn’t the reason the majority of the teams he has played for have been relegated. In truth, it appears we have a great keeper on our hands, excuse the pun.
But is he our number one right now?
Hard to say, but one thing is for certain, Leno doesn’t deserve the chopping block just yet. It hasn’t helped that the games he has played have been the three losses which consigned us to the relegation zone after three games. But for the nine goals he shipped, can he be blamed for any of them?
And also remember, didn’t Leno pull off a save so audacious, that he had Romelu Lukaku slack-jawed in disbelief, asking if Leno had just saved his effort?
Maybe Leno might leave us this summer. But if he does, he can hold his head high after adding a semblance of respect back to Arsenal keepers. Leno allowed us to relax a little more when watching our games, rather than sitting in fear whenever the ball approached our defensive third.
Leno isn’t finished yet people. Reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.