Mikel Arteta defended Aaron Ramsdale after the Arsenal goalkeeper’s error-strewn display in the 1-0 win at Brentford.
Not even Kai Havertz’s late winner, which sent the Gunners to the top of the Premier League for the first time this season, could mask a horror show from Ramsdale.
The 25-year-old was back in the spotlight on his first league appearance since September 3 with David Raya, now seemingly the club’s undisputed number one, still on loan from Brentford and ineligible to face his parent club.
But the England international made a horribly nervous start which almost gifted the Bees an early goal.
Having exchanged passes with Gabriel from a goal kick, Ramsdale suddenly developed a bout of the yips, hesitating with his clearance and allowing Yoane Wissa to pinch the ball away.
Luckily for Ramsdale, Declan Rice had already spotted the danger and got back to clear Bryan Mbeumo’s shot off the line, before Wissa put the rebound wide.
But Ramsdale hid his face under his shirt following another embarrassing error before half-time, somehow letting the ball slip out of his hand.
Instead of throwing it up-field he ended up looking like a fast bowler delivering a bouncer which went straight to Bees midfielder Frank Onyeka. The danger was quickly cleared, but Ramsdale’s confidence was ebbing further down the drain.
However, Arteta insisted: “This is football, I’m so happy with the team, we kept a clean sheet and we move on.
“He has big courage, big personality and that’s why we love him. I enjoy to see the players encouraging each other.”
Nevertheless, the Gunners won it when Bukayo Saka swung in a cross from the right and substitute Havertz ghosted in at the far post to plant his header past Mark Flekken and send them back to the top of the pile.
It was only the German’s second goal since his summer switch from Chelsea.
“That’s the beauty of it, when things come easy you don’t value it,” Arteta added.
“We love him for a reason and the way he behaves in difficult moments. We could not be happier that a big player like him won the game.
“I’m so happy, when you have opportunity to go top and you come to Brentford, an uncomfortable place to come, the team showed so much willingness to compete.”
For the Bees a record of 14 London derbies without defeat came to an end.
“I think we did so many things right, it was a very even game in many ways,” said boss Thomas Frank.
“There were two chances for each team. Unfortunately they took one and we didn’t. The game should have been a draw. I’m pleased with the performance and effort of the players.”