In 2008, the signing of Aaron Ramsey brought great promise to the Arsenal ranks. Nearly ten years on, the Welshman’s Gunners career is very much a story of two parts – and we are yet to see if it has a happy ending. His quite spectacular season in 2013/14 seems all but a distant yet special memory now, and in recent years Ramsey has been haunted by injury recurrences. To put it frankly, he has sadly not quite reached the heights that his breakthrough campaign indicated he was capable of reaching. Aaron Ramsey has gone from the first name on the teamsheet, to falling out of favour with Arsenal fans – harshly being labelled ‘spineless’ by Piers Morgan.
To start more positively, though, it would be wrong not to revisit that stunning season. Before 2014 had even begun, the Welshman had contributed a quite astonishing 13 goals. To put this into perspective, before the 2013/14 campaign, the midfielder had only scored a modest 11 goals in 150 appearances. Suddenly it was like he had awoken from a deep sleep, smashing his goals record in the space of a few months, not to mention winning four consecutive player-of-the-month awards. Aaron Ramsey had become fundamental in every Arsenal attack, and by Christmas had scored more than the Gunners’ main striker for that season, Olivier Giroud – who had 12 at this point.
It is not an understatement to say that Ramsey was single-handedly inspiring Arsenal to the top of the table, and it appeared that years of faith were finally paying off. His performances did not go unnoticed, and out of nowhere, the former Cardiff City man was attracting the attention of Catalan giants, Barcelona. This was hardly surprising, as ‘Rambo’ was delivering performances attributable to a world class midfielder, on a weekly basis.
Unfortunately, Ramsey’s fairytale season came to an abrupt halt when he suffered a thigh strain on Boxing Day against West Ham. This effectively ended his season, and with this, Arsenal’s title challenge fell into tatters. Whilst out for 98 days and missing 21 games in total, Ramsey did have one last vital contribution to the season, scoring that decisive goal in injury time against Hull in the FA Cup final. Arsenal fans will be praying that Rambo can deliver another one of these performances against Chelsea this year.
It is fair to say Ramsey’s goal salvaged what would have otherwise been a very disappointing season for Arsenal. But who knows what they would have achieved if he had remained fit for the duration of the campaign. Just like Arsenal have struggled with the absence of Santi Cazorla this season, Ramsey proved to be the key ingredient for success in that particular season. Whilst it is not quite reasonable to compare him to Arsenal legend, Robert Pires, Pires was never the same after injuring himself in 2002 against Newcastle. In a similar manner, Ramsey has struggled to find form since his long-term absence that season.
Since this injury, Ramsey has suffered countless injury problems – missing considerable playing time in the seasons that have followed. Recurring thigh and hamstring injuries have prohibited him from reaching any kind of momentum, and these fitness problems have resulted in frustrating performances on the rare occasion that he has featured for the Gunners. But crucially, there is still hope for Aaron Ramsey. We know that the number 8 is capable of delivering sensational performances, and there is evidence of this recently with his courageous appearances for Wales in Euro 2016 – being a pivotal part of them rather impressively reaching the semi-finals.
Dissimilar to the likes of Piers Morgan, Arsenal fans need to get behind the Welshman – spurring him on to show us what we know he is capable of. But of course Ramsey needs to do his part too, and a good start would be spending less time concentrating on designing boots, and more time on the training ground! Being aged 26, he still has an opportunity to write a happy final chapter in his footballing career.