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Arsenal: 3 players exceeding expectations so far this season

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3 players exceeding expectations so far this season for Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side as the international break takes centre stage. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

The season is long. It’s only in its infancy. As Arsenal continue their wait for the next top-flight fixture with the ongoing international break taking centre stage, some reflections and analysis of what has already transpired can be delved into.

What has been Arsenal’s campaign so far? A game of two halves in many ways.

Absolutely atrocious for the opening three Premier League matches, distinctly improved for the following three if still not spectacular all throughout, and then finished with some middle ground in earning a point away at a side above them in the table without playing at all well.

There is an incline in the current trajectory but it’s still tough to put your finger on exactly which Arsenal team will be on show for the visit of Crystal Palace on matchweek eight.

3 players exceeding expectations so far this season for Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side as the international break takes centre stage

Just as results have differed, so too have the players in the squad: some are looking sharper every week, others are struggling to hit the form they’ve shown in recent seasons.

Mikel Arteta now has his starting lineup all-but nailed down with Granit Xhaka the only absentee, partly due to some excellent starts to 2021/22 for certain individuals. Even if there was hopes of strong outings for some, three in particular have exceeded expectations.

Some conclusions are too early to draw. With so much left of the campaign to play out there is plenty of time for those in form to drop out of it just as there is scope for the few not quite hitting the mark to step up.

Yet it can be said with plenty of confidence that the following trio have hit the ground running this term, at a level above that most saw coming.

Arsenal, Aaron Ramsdale

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 26: Aaron Ramsdale of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on September 26, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

1. Aaron Ramsdale

Above than anyone else and, based on the reaction of the overwhelming majority, perhaps one of the biggest surprises in the entire division in terms of how silly he’s made a lot of people look.

Sometimes it’s really pleasant to be wrong. Welcome eggs splattered all over the face.

Aaron Ramsdale has been superb in his five matches in net for Arsenal so far, four in the Premier League and one in the Carabao Cup. Do those certify him as an exceptional goalkeeper and worthy of the £30m outlay? Not just yet, but there is no denying he has exceeded expectations.

Largely expected to be gradually integrated over the course of the campaign with regular outings in cup competitions and the occasional top-flight dabble, he’s instead been fast-tracked to number one and grasped it with both hands.

Most striking is how he has connected with his defenders. There is a unity, control and communication there backed up by a command of the penalty area that Bernd Leno was always guilty of lacking.

To have become a cult favourite with supporters is a credit to his character and demeanour, while in an actual goalkeeping sense he’s looked assured at high claims, dynamic with his feet and effective with his distribution.

As of right now Ramsdale has silenced so many doubters. While it’s very early days for the 23-year-old, nobody can deny that.


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