Aaron Ramsdale makes his case to stay first selection

Perhaps David Raya would have saved it. It was a tame penalty, in spite of everything. But Aaron Ramsdale did put it aside, diving to his proper, blocking Julian Alvarez’s lacklustre effort, punching the air, simply as he had when Kevin de Bruyne thumped the underside of the bar together with his spot kick.

Whichever, it amounted to a response from Ramsdale. A seeming success story of Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, the goalkeeper signed from relegated Sheffield United, who signed him from relegated Bournemouth, who appeared the spirit animal of a younger, hungry aspect who went on to high the desk for 248 days. And who, then, all of a sudden, brutally, appeared undermined when it emerged Arsenal had been bidding for Brentford’s Raya.

But Ramsdale brings character. The sense is that he is not going to give up his place with out a combat, even when the Gunners do land Raya or one other potential No.1. A Community Shield triumph and a 3rd trophy of Arteta’s reign got here courtesy of two of his saves. The first, stopping Phil Foden from doubling Manchester City’s lead, had a touch of fortune, the ball hanging the within of his leg after which rolling previous the put up.

Fortune could have favoured Arsenal once more with the objective that secured a shootout. The A hundred and first-minute strike could develop into a extra frequent phenomenon as the quantity of added time mushrooms this season. Two months earlier, City received the Champions League partly due to a save deep into added time; when one other trophy beckoned and nonetheless later, Stefan Ortega was wrongfooted when Leandro Trossard’s shot took an enormous deflection off Manuel Akanji.

And then Martin Odegaard, Trossard and Bukayo Saka – who had missed in a extra well-known shootout at Wembley two years earlier – discovered the online from 12 yards. De Bruyne’s miss and Ramsdale’s save afforded Fabio Vieira the prospect to win it: his namesake, Patrick, had determined a shootout in opposition to a Manchester membership within the 2005 FA Cup closing and historical past repeated itself.

At the top of it, Arteta had only a second win in ten managerial conferences with Guardiola: on penalties, with the help of added time and deflections, however after dropping three earlier video games in 2023 and eight in all, any victory was welcome.

He could really feel he had discovered a way, too. Kai Havertz has been purchased to play as a free eight for Arsenal however his debut got here as a false 9, the position by which he regularly flattered to deceive at Chelsea. It was the product of an damage to Gabriel Jesus and a tactical ploy alike. If Arteta was camouflaging his principal gameplan for the season, his signings form the way in which they may most likely play in opposition to lesser opponents. But not in opposition to City, who had eviscerated them 3-1 and 4-1 in video games that could possibly be billed as title deciders: that, although, was with De Bruyne and Erling Haaland in harness and when the Belgian got here on, the Norwegian went off.

But Arsenal had extra restraint, extra persistence as a lot of the match had the texture of a phoney battle. There was a cautiousness to them, with two defensive midfielders, males behind the ball and a willingness to face off, relatively than urgent. The Arteta blueprint could entail Declan Rice working on his personal on the base of the midfield, however he had Thomas Partey for firm, and Havertz debuting alone in assault.

Arsenal received the Community Shield on penalties (Nick Potts/PA)

(PA Wire)

Chances had been a premium; three of various sorts fell to Champions League closing scorers. Rodri tried an audacious try to lob Ramsdale from the half-way line: the backpedalling goalkeeper was spared embarrassment when the ball landed on the roof of the online.

Havertz, whose Champions League closing objective got here for Chelsea and in opposition to City, had his alternatives when Arsenal allied persistence and restraint with hints of a counter-attacking menace. Ortega saved twice from Havertz after low passes from the fitting, with Ben White and Saka choosing out the German. It continued a theme that felt all too acquainted at Stamford Bridge. It was Havertz in a nutshell, the supposed generational expertise with the elusiveness to earn possibilities and the lack to take them. The nice xG underachiever scored too few targets for Chelsea, however discovered the online in Champions League and Club World Cup finals; maybe the Community Shield was not a large enough event.

It did, although, appear Cole Palmer’s day. The 20-year-old got here on with De Bruyne and put City forward in luxurious type, curling a shot previous Ramsdale. It earned him the participant of the match award – an indication in itself of how little had occurred earlier than his arrival – however the verdict was made earlier than Trossard, Akanji and Ramsdale’s interventions.

And so City had been denied a fourth trophy in as many months and a 3rd in as many video games. With honours scarcer for Arsenal, the Community Shield most likely meant extra to them. And together with his place at risk, it could have had an added significance to Ramsdale.

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