Merson warns Arsenal star of making classic blunder which will haunt him after rare criticism

Aaron Ramsdale, Bukayo Saka Arsenal v Brentford February 2022

Aaron Ramsdale must prove himself again for Arsenal against Aston Villa but must also avoid making a fool of himself, Paul Merson has said.

Gunners goalkeeper Ramsdale has proved a fantastic signing for the north London side since his arrival last summer. He faced criticism while he played his part in two relegations in as many seasons.

Indeed, he faced the drop at Bournemouth and he then failed to stop Sheffield United going down last season. As a result, Arsenal turned heads last summer when signing the 23-year-old for an initial £24million.

However, Ramsdale has proved one of the best signings in the Premier League this season. After initially battling with Bernd Leno, he has stamped his authority on Mikel Arteta’s team.

He has consequently received backing to overtake Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford as England’s No. 1.

On Wednesday, though, he faced criticism for not keeping Diogo Jota’s near-post shot out against Liverpool. Arsenal were the better team for large parts of the game, but Ramsdale’s error allowed Liverpool to go on and clinch a vital three points.

As such, Merson has warned Ramsdale of going over the top in trying to redeem himself, as the pundit recalled his former team-mate David James doing.

“Ramsdale hasn’t made too many mistakes,” Merson wrote in his Daily Star column.

“It’s not so long ago, before he joined Arsenal, that he was letting in goals left, right and centre for Bournemouth and Sheffield United. So you can see how far he’s come that we’re shocked when he makes a mistake like he did against Liverpool. We thought he’d cut those kinds of things out of his game.

Pundits slammed after doubted Arsenal duo shine

Pundits slammed after Arsenal duo Ramsdale and Ben White shine in new look Arsenal team

Now we’ll see on Saturday how he reacts. Does it affect him or does he come out still for crosses, dominate his box? It’s a hard job being a goalie. Is he ready to be England No 1? I’d like to see how he responds to making that mistake. That’s the test. Do you keep on playing your normal game or do you try and do too much?

Is he going to try and make up for it by trying too hard to do something special? I played with David James. At times he was an unbelievable keeper. But if he made a mistake sometimes he would try to make up for it by doing something special and that’s when it comes back to bite you.”

Merson added that if Ramsdale recovers in the clash at Villa Park, he should play for England in the upcoming international break.

“I think we’ll know whether he’s ready to be England’s No 1 after this game,” the pundit wrote.

“But if he comes through it, I would play him in the England friendlies. For Arsenal, the Liverpool game showed there’s still a gulf. There is a massive gap behind Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.”

Ramsdale has Arteta, Arsenal faith

Arsenal pair Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White

Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Arteta will keep his faith in Ramsdale against Villa.

Indeed, the England hopeful has kept 12 clean sheets in his 24 Premier League appearances this season.

Only Liverpool’s Alisson Becker and Ederson at Manchester City – both with 16 – have more.

As well as his own ability, though, Ramsdale has formed an excellent partnership with his defence.

Ramsdale, Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes and Kieran Tierney have formed a strong bond which will also see Arteta keep faith in his goalkeeper.