By Mark Mann-Bryans, PA
Aaron Ramsdale insists Arsenal can challenge the Premier League elite if they continue to put in performances akin to Saturday’s narrow loss to leaders Manchester City.
The Gunners suffered a last-gasp 2-1 defeat as Rodri turned home in injury time after Riyad Mahrez’s controversial penalty had cancelled out Bukayo Saka’s opener for the home side.
When the two teams met at the start of the season, City ran out comfortable winners but – despite playing against 10 men for over half an hour following Gabriel Magalhaes’ sending off – they were matched by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
The home side, with manager Mikel Arteta watching on from home having tested positive for Covid-19, dominated the first half and led at the break through Saka’s fine finish.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 2, 2022
They would ultimately come up short as City racked up an 11th consecutive league win but Ramsdale believed Arsenal showed enough to prove they can mix it with the best this season.
“(There are) a huge amount of positives,” he told the club’s official website.
“Not too many teams have dominated Man City like that more in the first half than we did it.
“We played really well in the second half and we need to try and get over the line in one of these big games, but at the start of the season when it’s 4-0, 5-0, Liverpool, City, this is a massive step in the right direction.
“We need to win one of these games, but ultimately we know we’re not challenging with these guys at the moment, but on this basis, if we can put that in week in, week out, we can be.”
City’s win did not come without contention, their penalty awarded after referee Stuart Attwell consulted his pitchside VAR monitor, something he opted against doing when Martin Odegaard went down following a challenge from Ederson in the first half.
“I felt it was soft,” Ramsdale said on the penalty which was awarded for a foul by Granit Xhaka on Bernardo Silva.
“The linesman said he didn’t think it was a penalty, but then they get told to go and check it by VAR.
“I’m more annoyed about the fact that they didn’t tell them to check ours in the first half on VAR.
“The referee might have said ‘no penalty’ anyway, but in game time, both times it was ‘no penalty’ for them and us, but he gets to go and check theirs and not ours. That’s where my frustration is, the inconsistency between one decision and the other.”
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 1, 2022
Arsenal were left crestfallen as Rodri turned home the last-gasp winner, with the club likely to be hit with a charge from the Football Association as items were thrown at the celebrating Manchester City players.
“They did a great game but we showed our champions personality,” the midfielder said of the late win.
“We’ve learned from the last years you have to push always no matter what happens.
“We didn’t do a great game but we pushed, we never dropped and we always thought it was possible.
“In the 90th minute, I scored the goal, I didn’t even know what I was doing there, with (Aymeric) Laporte there as well it was crazy, but three more points are vital for us.”