Aaron Ramsdale was kicked by a Tottenham fan following Arsenal’s north London derby victory.
The England goalkeeper – man of the match in the 2-0 win for the Premier League leaders – was attacked from behind moments after the full-time whistle.
The 24-year-old had enjoyed a wonderful afternoon but found himself involved in a heated scuffle with Spurs forward Richarlison following full-time at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
After a few words, Ramsdale left the exchange and went to retrieve his water bottle from behind the goal, only to be kicked by a Tottenham fan who had made his way from the stand to the advertising hoardings.
Arsenal’s players were furious as a number of Gunners and Spurs players and staff found themselves embroiled in a tussle near Ramsdale’s goal.
But rather than looking to get involved, manager Mikel Arteta dragged his star performer away and ushered him up to the away end at the other end of the pitch to celebrate with the Arsenal fans.
Ramsdale was visibly furious at what had happened, while midfielder Granit Xhaka was also outraged as he looked to head back into the scrap in the penalty area.
Speaking after the match, the goalkeeper told Sky Sports: “The Spurs fans were giving me some [stick] throughout the second half, I gave them some back.
“For the few people that I did give it to it was probably well-greeted, sportsmanship-like. Then a fan came over and gave me a punch in the back. That’s what happened. It’s a shame because it’s just a game of football at the end of the day.
“Both sets of players tried to bring me away, but thankfully nothing actually happened that was enough too drastically. It’s a sour taste but I’m sure we’ll enjoy it when we get back to the dressing room.”
A statement from the Football Association read: “We strongly condemn the incident involving a spectator that followed today’s Premier League fixture between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
“This is wholly unacceptable behavior and we will work together with the police, the relevant authorities and the clubs to ensure the appropriate action is taken.”
Meanwhile, Tottenham said in a statement: “We are appalled by the behavior of a supporter that attempted to attack Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale at the end of today’s match. Violence in any form has no place in football.
“The club has reviewed its CCTV footage to identify the supporter and will be working with the Metropolitan Police, Arsenal and Aaron Ramsdale to take the strongest possible action, including an immediate ban from Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.”
Arteta, who claimed he had not seen the incident, was asked if he was concerned that players could be attacked so easily.
“We will deal with that,” Arteta said. “There’s nothing we can do right now. I don’t want that taking 0.0001 percent of the enjoyment and satisfaction that we have at this moment. We will deal with that tomorrow.”
Tottenham boss Antonio Conte said: “If it happened, this type of situation, it’s not good.
“To be able to always show respect is better, at any moment, for the opponent, for the players. If it happened, I didn’t like it.”
And Spurs defender Eric Dier, who was handed a four-match suspension in 2020 for marching into the crowd to confront an abusive fan, described the incident as ‘unacceptable’.
H”I didn’t see it, but obviously it’s just unacceptable really. There’s nothing more I can say other than it’s unacceptable and it shouldn’t have happened.”
But while Spurs were left to deal with the repercussions their angry players and fans, Arsenal’s were all smiles as they celebrated a priceless victory with their fans.
That win over Tottenham puts the Gunners eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table, meaning that they’ll be even more confident that they have what it takes to go all the way in their title charge.