If Aaron Ramsey wasn’t entirely sure whether he was out of form, he knew now. Because it had quite literally, snuck up behind him. Fernando Torres, desperately out of form himself and hoping he would be rewarded through hard-work, dispossessed Ramsey on at least two occasions and the Emirates crowd quickly grew restless at his lack of urgency early on in the goalless draw with Chelsea. Ramsey did improve, however, as the game wore on and he played a fantastic long-pass to Robin van Persie which indicated anything but a downturn of confidence but there was no escaping that he was – and deep in the thick of it.
In a season where Arsenal have finally made The Emirates feel like their own – and they’ve had to, after the disastrous start they had and those involved in the 8-2 drubbing by Manchester United have quickly had to rectify matters; Tomáš Rosický has been rejuvenated, Robin van Persie can’t stop scoring, Laurent Koscielny has gone from strength to strength while Theo Walcott initially lost, and won back the fans – Aaron Ramsey hasn’t quite been able to get the fans on his side. That task was made harder when Jack Wilshere succumbed for the whole season and Ramsey was given the unenviable task of replacing Cesc Fàbregas. And after a difficult start, he started to show his talent.
After a captivating performance in the 5-3 win over Chelsea, which he capped off with a superb lifted pass, Michael Cox of ZonalMarking.net hailed Ramsey as a better prospect than Jack Wilshere. His drive was crucial in the early parts of the season and he quickly became Arsène Wenger’s go-to man, usually tasked with the simple brief of taking the game “by the scruff of the neck.” He drove Arsenal to a 3-0 second-half win over Bolton Wanderers, creating the opener with his determined running after Wenger had pushed him closer to Robin van Persie. The same tactic was deployed straight after the break against Tottenham where he scored his first goal and afterwards against Marseilles where he got his second. Perhaps it’s natural to give instructions to a young player such as Ramsey as older heads need less guidance but the fact that Wenger trusts him so much, highlights the detail of the role he is playing.
Indeed, it has been slightly difficult to define Ramsey’s role because the duality of it: is he a playmaker or just an advanced box-to-box midfielder in a 4-3-3? Because at times, he presses as the second-striker behind van Persie but in possession, he drifts around the pitch, looking to get into pockets to influence. Indeed, Arsenal’s midfield operates best in rotation – one filling in when the other gets forward – such that it’s probably best not to give titles to roles. Certainly, what was most striking about Song-Arteta-Ramsey partnership is that each member of the midfield excelled in area atypical of their role. Alex Song, the enforcer, has been Arsenal’s best creator, playing the most through-balls in the Premiership while Mikel Arteta, the regista, has the best technique but it’s not use to create and rather to provoke, and he’s made the most passes in the attacking third this season. Aaron Ramsey, on the other hand, might operate in the spaces a playmaker does be he’s primarily been used high up the pitch for his energy to press (he’s in the top 5 in the league for distance covered) although he still creates a lot of open play opportunities.
Arsenal have probably improved lately, however, with the return of Rosický in the midfield, giving the team a degree of specialisation. It’s meant Aaron Ramsey has had to miss out, coinciding in Arsenal’s impressive late season form but he can still be satisfied with his involvement this season. Because he was entrusted, at the start of the season, to spearhead the midfield in the toughest moment of Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal career and was ever more crucial when the full-backs became unavailable and they had to replicate their drive from somewhere. Ramsey stepped up and provided that and more with his tireless running
Aaron Ramsey may be suffering from a lack of confidence in what is essentially his first full season at the club, but he can proudly look back at the solid contribution he has made to help get Arsenal to where they are right now.