Is Aaron Ramsey an Arsenal legend?

Opinion

Ramsey, of late, scored a brilliant brace vs. CSKA Moscow in the Europa League. His second goal, especially, was very well-taken.

However, there have been some who have said that Ramsey is an Arsenal legend. Ramsey gets a lot of stick, and justifiably so. He is not as consistent as he can be, and the stand out season in 13/14 is as much a boon as it is a curse for him. He has not, since then, sustained that great performance level.

My view on Ramsey is that he’s a sound player. He lit up Euro 2016, and he has scored FA Cup Final winners for us. But a legend is, in my view at the least, a stretch. Some deem him a legend because he scored winners in 2014 and 2017 finals, but for me, it’s not like that.

What is a legend?

It’s a subjective term. Though for me, a legend is defined as performances over a long-time above and beyond what others do or have done. Or even ever will do. Ronaldo and Messi, but that reckoning, are certainly legends of both the contemporary and lasting football spheres.

Ian Wright (Wright Wright), Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira, Pires, Adams, Seaman, Bould, Winterburn, Dixon, Sansom, Cole, Jennings, O’Leary, Brady, etc. all qualify for me on this basis. They all, in terms of their consistency over many years, performed not only the best amongst Arsenal players but amongst their peers domestically and internationally. Henry, possibly, at his peak was the best striker on Earth. Only Shearer could really top a peak Ian Wright. Seaman was only truly rivalled by Schmeichel in his heyday. And Jennings, despite his evident Spurs connections, was a great in Northern Irish, British, and global terms.

The key for me is consistency over a long period. Henry scored goals at a high-rate in all of his years, as did Wrighty. Bergkamp was so-so in his first season, but once Wenger came he blossomed. Once Adams was made captain under Graham, he shone highly until his retirement in 2002.  Ramsey, for me at least, has not performed to his optimum in every season he has been with us.

So legendary status is not warranted.

Incidentally, by my own definition, these constitute legends of Arsenal in every position:

                 GOALKEEPERS KELSEY, WILSON, JENNINGS, LUKIC, SEAMAN, LEHMANN
RIGHT-BACKS DIXON, RICE, LAUREN
CENTRAL DEFENDERS ADAMS, BOULD, MCLINTOCK, O’LEARY, CAMPBELL, KOSCIELNY, SIMPSON, KEOWN
LEFT-BACKS COLE, WINTERBURN, SANSOM, NELSON
RIGHT-WING ROCASTLE, MERSON, LIMPAR, PARLOUR, ARMSTRONG, LJUNGBERG
LEFT-WING PIRES, ALEXIS, BASTIN
CENTRAL MIDFIELDD JAMES, STOREY, BRADY, VIEIRA, PETIT, SILVA, GRAHAM, THOMAS
STRIKERS WRIGHT, BERKGAMP, HENRY, GEORGE, DRAKE, SMITH, RADFORD

Some surefire Arsenal legends above – Seaman, Sansom, and Wright

So can Ramsey be a legend?

Yes, he can.

Whilst he has not performed to his best in all seasons, there are some templates he can use:

  • Keown

Keown started at Arsenal as a young player in the 1980s, and was a youth player alongside Campbell, the late, great Rocky Rocastle, Adams, and Thomas. He left the club to join Aston Villa, and then played for Everton, until re-joining us in 1993. Initially though, in his second tenure, he was not universally appreciated. He was played more as a midfielder, and in a way was not the creative presence that we needed at the time.

However, from 1995 onwards, he improved, and once Wenger came, he reverted to his more natural position as a central defender. He then became an integral part of the defence once Bould left for Sunderland, and of course this culminated in the 2002 Double, and giving van Nistelrooy an earful at Old Trafford in 2003.

  • Parlour

Ray Parlour made his debut in the early 1990s under Graham, and despite some initial promise (and indiscretions with teammates) he was floundering a bit until Wenger came. After this, he emerged as a very solid winger, and showed his full potential in the 1998 Double season. He was unlucky to miss out in the 1998 England World Cup squad, though he naturally was pivotal in the 2002 Double side, and especially in the FA Cup final.

So there are other players who have reverted from “zeros to heroes”, as it were. However, the key is consistency. Who could question Keown’s consistent quality from, say 1997 to 2004? Very few, if any.  Ramsey needs to do this to be a true legend.

Cup final winners

Yes, Ramsey did score the winning goals vs. Hull City and Chelsea respectively.

But then the following players have scored cup final winners:

  • Steve Morrow
  • Andy Linighan
  • Olivier Giroud (technically)
  • Nicolas Anelka

Giroud scored the last goal in our 4-0 win vs. Villa, so I guess this may count as the winner. And Anelka scored the second goal vs. Newcastle in 1998.

Morrow notably scored the winner vs. Sheffield Wednesday in the 1993 League Cup final, and due to Adams’ carelessness in the post-match celebration suffered a broken arm.

I liked Giroud at Arsenal, and Linighan was a capable deputy for Adams and Bould. Anelka naturally had potential, and Morrow did his best whilst not excelling. However, I wouldn’t deem any of them legends. Giroud scored a number of important and aesthetically grand goals, but then for me Wright, Henry, and Bergkamp exceeded him.

I don’t think scoring cup final winners alone makes any player a legend.

Moreover, Thierry Henry’s cup final record with us was poor. Does this disbar him from being a legend?

Not yet, but he can be…

So this piece hasn’t been to diss Ramsey. Far from it, since he’s a player I respect a lot.

However, I believe the label of “legend” is overblown in Ramsey’s case. I’d like him to be a legend, but then for me, he has to feature a lot more to gain that label.