Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale has brushed off claims that the Gunners have ‘bottled’ the Premier League title race.
Having led the league for the vast majority of the season, Arsenal seem destined to finish second in the standings after a run of just four wins in nine games, coupled with a rampant run of form from Manchester City, has seen Pep Guardiola’s side climb to the top.
It’s led to claims that Arsenal have fallen under the pressure of the title race, but Ramsdale was keen to focus on the progress made by the Gunners across a season in which they were not expected to contend.
“This narrative of ‘bottled it’ is an easy way out,” he told The Times. “It’s just a quick, cheap narrative from certain people who have not actually gone digging into the stories of what we’ve achieved.
“And some people are saying it and forgetting that other teams in other years have had the same experience as us by missing out on the title by a certain number of points. For us, we are disappointed, but extremely proud of ourselves as well.
“I also think it’s very hard to say that with a team [City] who have won it in five of the last six years, gone on an 11-game winning streak and will potentially win the treble. So we have to be realistic as well.”
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Ramsdale further acknowledged that while competing for first place brings its own pressure, it cannot be compared to the intense strain of relegation battles he experienced with previous clubs.
“The pressure of a relegation battle is much worse than fighting for the title,” he continued. “It is more of an enjoyment when you are at the top of the league. You are trying to play with freedom, with a smile. When you are down there, it is difficult to have that mindset.
“I have learned things with those relegations. If I had not been through that, I would not know how to deal with disappointment, with the off-pitch stuff and how to react. You have to have a life, to be able to compartmentalise the differences between football and home. That, for me, has come from my experiences with relegation.”
According to Ramsdale, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta took a different approach during a recent team meeting at the club’s training ground. Instead of focusing on their recent 3-0 defeat to Brighton, Arteta chose to remind his players of their achievements and development throughout the season.
“He put on the board that we can still have the most wins by an Arsenal team in the Premier League, ever. It was about how progressive this season has been and how positive we can be.”
Arsenal can still mathematically win the title, as they are currently four points behind Man City with an extra game played, though they are no longer in control of their own destiny. The club will aim to finish on a positive note in their remaining matches against Nottingham Forest and Wolves, while hoping that somehow Manchester City manage to slip up to hand them the Premier League title.
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