Written by Tom Wales.
Signed from Cardiff in 2007, Aaron Ramsey, who many saw as a future replacement for Cesc Fabregas has impressed at times during his 77 appearances for Arsenal scoring 7 and creating 16 goals. After the sales of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas combined with the long term injury of Jack Wilshere; during the 2011/2012 season pressure was put on Ramsey to play the ‘Fabregas’ Role in Central Midfield. This combined with the fact that he himself had just recovered from a long term injury suffered against Stoke meant that from Young Ramsey a lot was wrongly expected.
Standing *cough* *cough* sitting, at the match on Saturday watching Arsenal play a very defensive but surprisingly open QPR it struck me how Arsenal have a new ‘boo boy’, following in the famous footsteps of Eboue and Walcott. Comments such as “Look how much he slows the game down” and “another pass backwards” were shouted when he had nowhere to go, along with the usual “he’s rubbish” calls from supporters with high expectations.
Wenger has deployed Aaron in the wide right position on several occasions, partly due to Theo Walcott’s on-going contract negotiations and because of Jenkinson’s inexperience. However with the return of Bacary Sagna, some would say that Ramsey’s place, for now, is on the Arsenal bench as with a midfield of Arteta, Wilshere and Cazorla there is no place for Ramsey. When on Saturday Ramsey came into the middle for the last 20 minutes he look more comfortable than playing wide right and didn’t slow the game down.
To be honest, I am not sure what the supporters who sit around me want from Ramsey. One minute he is not going forward enough then he they are moaning at him for not helping to defend. Playing out wide does not suit his style of play and it is clear that his runs from deep in midfield add an extra dimension to Arsenals play, however, out wide he much like Walcott in that he has only one way to go and that is down the touch line. Against teams like QPR there is usually no space to do this. This results in the perceived notion of him slowing the game down as he tries to retain the ball and passes backward partly because we often have no target man such as Giroud or he who cannot be named – Chamakh, but also because it then means (hopefully) that teams will be stretched enabling Cazorla/Wilshere to work some magic.
Aaron Ramsey then, does the job that he is asked to do. Yes, his long passing game is lacking but what does one expect when he is playing on the wing so often? This season Arsenal, despite having claim to the best defensive record in the Premier League, have lacked defensive balance. This is what Ramsey brings, with an 87% pass completion rate against QPR he’s up there with Arteta but unfortunately, he is playing in completely the wrong position.
As seen above, Ramsey despite playing more central than Walcott when he came on, needs to be playing in Arteta’s position but yet has to balance this with the ability to push forward and make his impressive runs. The obvious candidate for a midfield place after another Abou Diaby injury was Ramsey, however this coincided with the return of Wilshere and unrecognised form of Francis Coquelin,. Jack Wilshere was back, blessed with the ability to turn attack into defence with the blink of eye and effortlessly push forward and with Wilshere being a crowd favourite who can at times do no wrong, is there hope for Ramsey?
I’m afraid he may have to act as an impact substitution until he can take Mikel Arteta’s place as the central midfield pivot, this was highlighted against QPR. In the build-up to Arteta’s goal Ramsey kick started the move and then went on a run distracting the QPR defence – Ramsey in that position then, works well. It appears that for the first time in a while we have many quality midfield options. Furthermore Ramsey has nothing in front of him to aim at on the right – like he would have in the middle, no Giroud (at times), no Chamakh-type player to aim at. Instead he has to either wait for Sagna or a run from one of the midfield men. This is why Ramsey deserves credit, he keeps the ball well and has to cover for Arsenal’s attacking deficiencies and as well as having an 87% pass completion against QPR. he attempted eight dribbles completing four. For a player lacking the agility and speed of Walcott and Gervinho that is impressive.
But yet when the substitutions were made on Saturday again the moans and groans were audible around me about why wasn’t the useless Ramsey taken off. ”He’s done nothing all game” they cried but I thought he had done his job well out wide and when the subs were made and he was pushed back into the middle I thought he helped push the team forward towards the end of the game.
I think the real problem with Ramsey is the expectation of the fans as well as positioning. I think they see him as the Welsh Wilshere expecting him to pick passes and drive the team forward. Whereas I see him more as a player who complements a player like Wilshere a player who can allow Jack to do what he does but then, when needed, pushes forward himself. If Arsenal keep the formation they have been playing I can see Ramsey taking over the Arteta’s position. They keep the ball moving position, there will always be there man open to receive the ball, they keep it simple for the player that the 433 formation needs.
I’m sure there are more worthy players for the new boo boy at Arsenal than Aaron Ramsey, he is much like Theo Walcott last year; unfairly judged despite playing quite well and putting in hard-working performances. He is a defensive midfielder with the ability to drive forward and lead attacks and this is why I believe that he is a future star alongside the likes of Wilshere, Coquelin, Yennaris and now, with the emergence of Gnabry and Eisfeld is appears as if Aaron could have a major impact in the future of Arsenal Football Club.
Follow Tom on Twitter @GodlessBrit------------
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