AARON RAMSDALE revealed that Arsenal’s relentless title bid has been powered by bitter rivals Spurs.
The England goalkeeper is still haunted by the memory of last season’s dramatic late collapse, when the Gunners allowed Tottenham to snatch fourth place from them on the final day.
And he readily admits that missing out on Champions League qualification has been a key motivation in his team’s bid to land a first Premier League title since 2004.
Wednesday’s 4-0 home win against struggling Everton has carried Arsenal five points clear of closest rivals Manchester City in the title race.
But Ramsdale is taking just as much satisfaction from the fact that they are now 15 points ahead of their fading North London neighbours.
He said: “The scars from last year are obviously driving us on.
“No one here has forgotten what happened, especially as we lost out to the other lot down the road, which made it even worse for our fans.
“That hurt us a lot and it was a massive motivation for us at the start of this campaign.
“We were all thinking back to our mistakes at the end of last season, the times we dipped under our levels and didn’t do what he had practised all year.
“That was a big lesson for us but I’ve also found out the hard way that you can’t get too low or too high.
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“If you lose a game of football it can’t take over your whole life.
“If I had let that happen after every disappointment, I would have been sat in my house and not seeing the outside world for a long period of my short career.
“Obviously I want to win every game I play but it’s not the be all and end all at the moment.
“Of course that will change if we get to the final four or five games of the season and we’re still in this position.
“But for now it’s just playing with a group of my mates and enjoying it.”
Ramsdale, 24, knows all about dealing with pressure after suffering back-to-back relegations with Bournemouth and Sheffield United before his £30million move to the Emirates in 2021.
So it is hardly surprising he is relishing his current position at the top of the table.
Like most of his Gunners team-mates, Ramsdale has never had to deal with the expectations of challenging for a league title.
So we’re treating it as if we were tenth or 12th in the table and it’s a real enjoyment
And he reckons that might just be working in their favour as they enter the business end of the season. He added: “Because a lot of us have not been in this situation before, we don’t really know how to handle it.
“So we’re treating it as if we were tenth or 12th in the table and it’s a real enjoyment.
“We’re just going out to play with our mates and trying to win as many games as possible.
“And it’s definitely a much nicer pressure to have than when you’re at the opposite end of the Premier League.
“It’s honestly so much easier to play when things are going well and we’re all relishing this.”
No one’s form gives Ramsdale more pleasure than his England pal Bukayo Saka, Arsenal’s 11-goal top scorer whose strike set the Gunners on their way to victory against Everton.
Saka, 21, has been locked in contract talks with the club for more than a year, with a new deal expected to be announced in the next couple of weeks.
But Ramsdale insists there is no hurry for the Emirates idol to put pen to paper. He added: “I’m fairly relaxed about Bukayo, let him crack on with his team and allow the club to sort things out so we can move forward.
“It’s obviously not affecting him. He has easily been one of the top three players in the league this season, especially when you consider his age.”