Blog by: Vishal
It’s a shame that the first two things that Google’s instant search offers when one types Aaron Ramsey are ‘injury’ and ‘curse’. Ignore the oft sought after recommendation, hit the enter button and voila: the true influence the 22-year-old is having in Arsenal’s midfield will pop up on that screen.
“Ramsey upstages £42m man Mesut Ozil”
“Ramsey at the double against Sunderland”
That was after he saved Arsenal’s blushes at the Stadium of Light last weekend. He was their saviour again during the week, when the Gunners travelled to France to take on Marseille in the Champions League.
“Ramsey at it again”
“Arsene Wenger hails Ramsey’s form”
Then again, there is no praise like being weighed against the most expensive player in the world: “Ramsey laughs as fan tells him he’s better than £86m Gareth Bale.” That one is for the archives.
While all the talk has been about club record-signing Ozil from Real Madrid on deadline day, the Welshman has gone about his business rather nicely, and in a way has stolen the Germany international’s limelight; not that we hear him complaining.
No conversation of Ramsey is complete without three things:
- The career-threatening, gut-wrenching, horrific double leg break he suffered against Stoke City in 2010.
- The internet ‘curse’ (turned troll) that every time he scored, someone famous died – Whitney Houston, Osama bin Laden, Colonel Gaddafi and Steve Jobs.
- How he turned Manchester United down in favour of Arsenal about five years ago.
That Ryan Shawcross tackle at Britannia Stadium has inadvertently defined the youngster’s career. Ramsey returned from that hellish injury after a year and was immediately loaned out to Nottingham Forest and Cardiff in 2011, to gain not only match practice but also confidence.
Ramsey was slowly but surely blooded into the starting eleven by Wenger in the 2011/12 season. But he was almost immediately made the scapegoat of Arsenal’s inconsistent performances, even though he was played out of position; that fact went seemingly unnoticed.
At that time, Ramsey was asked to cover at right-back or play as an auxiliary winger on the left flank. And that’s when the “boo boys” came calling. Abusing a player is one thing, but doing it to one of your own – that after he was just recovering from both the mental and physical scars of a sickening injury – is quite simply, downright disgraceful.
Television personality and Arsenal fan Piers Morgan’s tweets emphasised the views of a select group of fans, who questioned whether Ramsey had the required talent to level up at a club like Arsenal.
“What does Wenger see in Ramsey? A complete and utter liability.”
But the thing with long-term injury lay-offs is that one has to be patient. And Wenger was just that with Ramsey, as he gave him time, ensured he regained his confidence and handed him a new contract until 2017.
Much to the bemusement of Morgan, of course:
“How on earth did Ramsey just get given a new 5yr contract? Unbelievable.”
But Ramsey has justified the faith his manager showed in him; a reminder that Wenger didn’t battle Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson for his signature for nothing.
It wasn’t till the fag end of last season – after Mikel Arteta injured himself – that he was asked to take his favoured role in the middle of the park. Acting as a one of two midfield pivots (either with Jack Wilshere or Mathieu Flamini) this season, Ramsey has dictated play from deep, broken up attacks and made late forays into the opponents’ box to finish of flowing moves with aplomb.
Ramsey has evolved into an all-action, box-to-box enforcer, and while he may not yet be technically gifted as Steven Gerrard, the impact he is having on his team is rather reminiscent of the Liverpool skipper, albeit in his younger days.
Ramsey’s late clincher in the 2-1 win over Marseille in the Stade Velodrome was his sixth goal in seven appearances this season; one more than he scored over the course of the last two seasons. It also ensured it was 10 straight away victories for Arsenal – a new club record.
But there was something sweeter in store for Ramsey. Morgan jumped out of the boo boys’ bandwagon on Wednesday, having seen the midfielder produce yet another virtuoso performance.
“Let’s be honest Arsenal fans – @aaronramsey was very poor last year and we all said it. He’s brilliant now, and I couldn’t be happier.”
If anything, fans should be thankful for the Welshman’s coming of age. If it wasn’t for his return to form, neither would they have beaten cross-town rivals Tottenham Hotspur to fourth spot last year and nor would they have made the Champions League for a 16th successive season.
Call it a freaky twist of fate, Arsenal’s opponents on Sunday are Stoke City. Shawcross will lead his team out but Ramsey’s new found self-belief (and character) should leave him feeling invincible.
Be it the Champions League Group of Death, their Premier League credentials or just the fact that their thread-bare squad is looking to end an eight-year trophy drought, Wenger doesn’t seem worried.
For in Rambo, he has an all-action guy who can get things done – just like Sylvester Stallone did in the action-packed movie series.