Smith Rowe urges Ramsdale to stay positive amid Arsenal competition

Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe has offered some words of encouragement to his teammate Aaron Ramsdale, who faces a tough battle for the number one spot at the club.

Smith Rowe, who scored the only goal in Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Brentford in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, knows how it feels to lose his place in the starting line-up. The 23-year-old had a breakthrough season in 2021/22, scoring 10 league goals and earning a call-up to the England squad. However, he suffered a setback in 2022/23, when he underwent surgery and missed most of the campaign. He returned to fitness in January, but struggled to get regular game time under Mikel Arteta.

Smith Rowe said: “Being at a massive club like Arsenal, we know there is so much competition. It is always going to be challenging, it is always going to be difficult to cement your place in the team. I have just got to keep believing in myself. Coming back and not quite getting back into the team, I have had to stay strong in my head and try to stay as positive as I can.”

Smith Rowe urges Ramsdale to stay positive amid Arsenal competition
Smith Rowe urges Ramsdale to stay positive amid Arsenal competition

Smith Rowe praised Arteta for helping him with his mentality and confidence, and said he was delighted to score his first goal of the season against Brentford. He also revealed that he has changed his approach on the pitch, and tries to be more direct and aggressive.

“I think the gaffer has really helped me with that [staying positive],” he added. “He has always been speaking to me, always been giving me advice. I am really grateful for that. I was buzzing to get my first goal of the season. I have changed a bit of my mentality – just to go for it. I have not really been doing that recently, so I am happy with that.”

Ramsdale faces competition from Raya

Smith Rowe’s words may resonate with Ramsdale, who started this season as Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper, but has seen his place taken by summer signing David Raya. The former Sheffield United keeper joined Arsenal for £24 million in August 2023, and impressed in his first few games for the Gunners. However, he was dropped for Raya, who arrived from Brentford for £15 million on deadline day.

Raya has started the last two Premier League games for Arsenal, as well as the Champions League game against Barcelona. He has kept two clean sheets and made some crucial saves, earning praise from Arteta and fans alike. Ramsdale, meanwhile, has been relegated to the bench, and only played in the Carabao Cup game against his former club.

Ramsdale said he was happy for Raya, but admitted he was frustrated by his situation. He said: “It’s obviously difficult. I came here to play games and I started well. But David is a top keeper and he deserves his chance. He has been brilliant since he came in and I can only learn from him. I am happy for him, but obviously I want to play as well.”

Ramsdale said he will not give up on his spot, and vowed to work hard and wait for his opportunity. He said: “I have to respect the manager’s decision and support David and the team. But I also have to keep pushing myself and show what I can do. I have to be ready when I get my chance again.”

Arteta praises both keepers for their attitude

Arteta said he was pleased with both Ramsdale and Raya, and praised them for their attitude and performance. He said: “They are both very good keepers and they are both very professional. They have a healthy competition between them and they support each other. They also push each other to improve and that’s what we want.”

The Arsenal boss said he will rotate his keepers depending on the game and the opponent, and said he trusts both of them equally. He said: “We have different games and different challenges ahead of us, and we need both of them ready. They both have different qualities and strengths, and we will use them accordingly. I have no doubt that they will both do well for us.”

Arteta also hailed Smith Rowe for his goal and his performance against Brentford, and said he hopes he can regain his form and confidence from last season. He said: “Emile is a fantastic player and a fantastic person. He had a difficult time with injuries last season, but he has worked very hard to come back stronger. He scored a great goal tonight and he showed his quality. I hope he can build on this and get back to his best level.”

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