Former Arsenal captain Tony Adams has criticised Mikel Arteta’s treatment of Aaron Ramsdale, claiming the England goalkeeper “did nothing wrong” before being dropped for David Raya.
Ramsdale was ever-present in the Arsenal team that challenged for the Premier League title last season and was rewarded for his performances in May with a new long-term contract.
However, Arsenal went on to sign Raya from Brentford on an initial season-long loan with an option to make the deal permanent for a fee of £27million next summer.
Having lost his starting spot to Raya, Ramsdale made his first Premier League start since September 3 in Saturday’s victory over Brentford with Raya unable to face his parent club.
Speaking to talkSPORT, Adams – convinced that Arteta’s predecessor Unai Emery would have won the title with Arsenal in 2022/23 – has claimed he would have remained loyal to Ramsdale after an impressive season last year, insisting a settled defence is the backbone of a successful team.
He said: “I don’t think Ramsdale did anything wrong and I would have stayed with him if I was manager of Arsenal Football Club. It’s a complete risk, absolutely, but if he thinks he’s such a superior goalkeeper and this goalkeeper that he’s bringing in is.
“With recruitment I always say you want to bring people in that are better than the ones that you’ve got, so if he thinks that this goalkeeper is better than the one he’s got and it’s going to go and win the title for us because that’s what I’m about.
“I always started the season with wanting to win the title. Actually, is this goalkeeper going to win the title for us? So if the manager thinks [yes], absolutely you’ve made the move, you’ve got him in and Ramsdale’s the backup goalkeeper now.
“You need a goalkeeper who is playing regularly with the back four and it was a big strength for us last year. I’m not too sure why they’re [changing goalkeepers].
“For me, Ramsdale had a fantastic season last year. I get the other competitions and in top-flight football nowadays you need a squad of players and a couple of fantastic goalkeepers, but you’re always going to have a number one.
“Go back to [the] Arsene [Wenger] days, at the end he was changing goalkeepers left, right and centre and for me, it’s always been a weakness.
“I was watching them playing out from the back against Brentford and they nearly messed it up again. We’re getting away with it at the moment, but I don’t like it.
“Back in the day with George Graham, he would have loved it. We’d do it in practice all the time where we’d give the ball to the opponents’ goalkeeper and they’d try and play it out and we were all over them.
“A full-press system that we had at Highbury back in the day, we pressed them and tried to score a goal in the first 20 minutes of the game and we’d have loved little teams playing out from the back.”
He added: “Last year he stopped messing around with his back four and kept a very stable defensive lineup.
“Thomas Partey had a fantastic season for us in holding midfield and Declan [Rice] does it for us today, but not as well as Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit when I got there, then Gilberto.
“It’s so important to have that framework and structure defensively.
“Last year was the first that he didn’t swap his right-back and his left-back – occasionally he does – but it’s a position on the pitch where you need consistency, you need familiarity and to play with people week in, week out and that was a strength last season.”