Back in May this year, after his scintillating end of season form, I wrote an article about Aaron Ramsey. In said article, I nicknamed him The General and said that if he continues his form into the 2013/14 season, he will be up there with the very best in the Premier League. I mentioned that he had a lot of natural talent, yet was often found lacking in confidence. That his good play was often let down by silly back heels, which got fans on his back and ebbed away his confidence more. That he was still carrying the mental scares from having his leg broken in THAT challenge by Ryan Shawcross. the mental scares from losing the Wales captaincy. The mental scares from the death of Gary Speed.
I also mentioned how far he had come in the last 6 months. That he was starting to keep it simple. He was stopping the back heels. And he was covering ground. A lot of ground. That he had added a lot of intelligence to his game. Tracking back to full back if Sagna bombed forward. Sitting into centre back if Koscielny or Mertersacker went on a run. I also presented some statistics:
- Pass completion – 88.6%
- Average passes – 52.1pg
- Tackling success – 91%
That put him up there with the likes of Maxime Gonalons, Arturo Vidal, Javi Martinez and Lars Bender as one of the most complete, effective central midfielders in Europe. My theory then was if he took his end of season form into this season, then we would see big things from the Welshman
And he has carried that form from last season into this. He is now running Arsenal’s midfield. But something has changed. He has got bigger.
He was already the fittest player at Arsenal. It seems the work he did to get himself back to fitness after he had his leg broken by Ryan Shawcross has giving him a huge base fitness. He does not stop running. Covers more ground then any other player. In fact, his energy has not been seen at Arsenal since we let Mathieu Flamini go 5 years ago. And to this base fitness, he has now added power.
At 6 foot, he always had the natural size to add bulk. And he has certainly hit the gym this summer. Looking stronger and more powerful, he is now physically dominating in the middle of the park. He looks a giant in midfield. The boy has become a man.
He always had talent with the ball at his feet. His 88% pass completion in 2013/14 was amongst the best in Europe. Despite many claiming ‘he always passes to the opposition’ the statistics do not lie. He has cut out the silly back heels and is keeping it simple. But as with the pass to Theo Walcott in the build up for Kieran Gibbs’ goal against Fenerbache, he is capable of doing the exceptional as well as the simple.
As with Jack Wilshere, he needs to add a few more goals to his game. 14 goals in 184 career games is not good enough. He does have the ability to score. Maybe not as many as a Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard, as he sits deeper, but certainly more than he currently gets. 10-12 goals a season from all competitions would be sufficient. Saying that, Xavi of Barcelona has only got over 5 goals 6 times in 15 seasons. So goals is not everything.
The fan’s reaction to him is also changing. Away to Chelsea last season, the boo boys were out. He could do no right in the fans eyes. Against Fulham on Saturday, his was the first name sung. His was the name sung the most. The fans have now fallen in love with the young Welshman. And he is young. We forget he is just 22.
And it seems the fans backing is also helping. He is playing with a lot of confidence. He is strolling around the middle of the park like he owns it. He is commanding. He looks like he belongs.
Aaron Ramsey is becoming such a key man in the centre of Arsenal’s midfield. Played in his correct position, which is as the ‘water carrier’ in the middle of the defensive and attacking midfielder, he has made that position his own for Arsenal. He is the reason we have decided not to sign Marouane Fellaini – who despite some beliefs, is not a defensive midfielder but plays in that similar position to Ramsey.
He has become so important to the club that he is now one of the first names down on the teamsheet. Only Per Mertersacker and Santi Cazorla are more important to Arsenal’s success. He is a long way ahead of Jack Wilshere at the moment – who’s own progress has stalled due to injuries over the last 2 seasons.
Jack Wilshere could learn a lot from Aaron Ramsey, who is certainly ahead of the young Englishman in terms of both ability and form. If Wilshere follows Ramsey, remains injury free, and works hard at his own game, he will improve. He needs to up his fitness, which will result in him getting less injuries. And he needs to keep his profile lower. You never read about Aaron Ramsey getting into bar room brawls. Or stumbling out of clubs. Or having other problems. Wilshere needs to keep his head down more.
Many label Jack Wilshere as the future Arsenal captain. But I do not agree with this. For me, the future Arsenal captain is Aaron Ramsey. He is currently a better player, and a better person. You do not see Ramsey acting like a petulant child. Moaning at referee’s. Or sulking when he does not get his way. He seems to be a much better role model then Wilshere. And with his new confidence, he is starting to lead on the pitch. Directing play. Aaron Ramsey is The General. Aaron Ramsey is the future Arsenal captain.
And what would that mean for the future for Arsenal? Well at 21 and 22 years old., both Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey could be Arsenal’s central midfield for a decade or more. Mimicking the Xavi/Iniesta axis that has served Barcelona so well for so many years. And if Gedion Zelalem continues his development, we could have a midfield trio which is hard working, talented and could grow up together. The future’s bright. The future’s Arsenal.
Now I am not one to say ‘I told you so’ but on this occasion, it seems I have been proved right.