Pundit lauds surprise Arsenal talisman who ‘picks up’ the team’s energy; Alan Smith praises ‘quality’ sub

·3-min read
Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White Credit: PA Images
Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White Credit: PA Images

A pundit picked out Aaron Ramsdale as the Arsenal talisman who ‘picks up’ the team and the Emirates crowd when they need it, while Alan Smith has praised substitute Eddie Nketiah.

The Gunners came back from 1-0 down to beat Fulham 2-1 at home on Saturday. Aleksandar Mitrovic gave Fulham a shock lead by stealing from Gabriel Magalhaes – who should have done better – before finishing into the far corner.

Arsenal dominated proceedings though and got level in the 64th minute through skipper Martin Odegaard. His shot from outside the box went past former Gunners keeper Bernd Leno with the help of a deflection.

And Arsenal won the game late on when Leno was crowded out at a corner, allowing Gabriel to make up for his earlier error and finish.

After the match, Sky Sports pundit Karen Carney was asked what impressed her about Arsenal’s performance.

“The character,” she replied. “It wasn’t easy for them, they dominated possession and had the opportunities but you’re thinking, ‘it’s one of them days’.

“It turned out to be that deflected shot from Odegaard [which made the difference]. He was absolutely brilliant.”

Carney then lauded Ramsdale for pushing his team-mates to reach the next level when Arsenal need it most. And it’s surprising that he’s so influential, given he is a goalkeeper.

Aaron Ramsdale ‘key’ to Arsenal success

“Gabriel had that moment. I’ve said it for a long time, Aaron Ramsdale is the key one who picks people up and it goes throughout the whole crowd and then the team,” she said.

“Not a great game, but they got it done. And we haven’t seen that character from an Arsenal side in a long time.”

On the Emirates atmosphere, former Arsenal player Smith said: “It was electrifying in here today. The fans are feeding off a really exciting young team.

“The noise levels in here, I haven’t heard it like that for a good 10 years. Every good team needs good support and Arsenal have got that.”

Smith was then asked about Nketiah, who came off the bench in the 61st minute and gave Arsenal even more threat.

Nketiah receives Alan Smith praise

“As with every substitute, it’s [about] that enthusiasm. Going out there, making sure you run lots and influence the game,” Smith said.

“He did that but he also did it with quality. He had a couple of half chances that he might have tucked away. On another day he could have come away with two [goals].

“He made a difference and he lifted the players around him. He gave his team-mates another option.

“I was pleased for him and I was pleased he signed another contract in the summer.”

Arsenal will be looking to continue their winning run in the Prem when they play Aston Villa on Wednesday at 19:30. After that, the Gunners come up against Manchester United on Sunday September 4.

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