Why Aaron Ramsey is key to Arsenal winning silverware

The signing of Mesut Özil has given Arsenal fans a massive boost going into their fourth Premier League game of the season and although he is one of the best players in the world, it is someone that signed in the summer of 2008 that could be just as key to the Gunners ending their quest for a trophy as the German.

Aaron Ramsey appeared to come of age towards the end of last season, he was a vital cog in the Arsenal machine that won eight out of their last ten Premier League games in 2012/13 campaign and conceded just five goals during that period.

The Welshman stared in a defensive midfield role and surprised a lot of Gunners fans who believed he would never return to the player he was after his career threatening injury.

In some sense that might still be true. Ramsey was a box-to-box midfielder before, where as now, he is in a defensive midfield role in a double pivot midfield. What is without doubt, is that he will be a huge player for Arsenal this season.

Jokes aside, and there are a lot of them when he scores, he has started this campaign in exceptional form – four goals in seven games for club and country - and this has further added to my belief that he will be a key component of Arsene Wenger’s team this year.

The Gunners disappointing opening day defeat to Aston Villa shouldn’t have deterred away from the impressive performance of the 22-year-old. He had more touches (110) and made more passes (81) than anyone on the pitch.

His pass success rate of 88% (81 successful passes out of 92) shows an improvement to Ramsey game and his ability to dictate play. Remember his focus now is to break up play, keep possession and move it on rather than try to and unlock a defence like before.

But was this a flash in the pan performance against a team that employs a counter-attacking style of play - à la Aston Villa? No it wasn’t.

Ramsey continued to dominate games, playing a sublime ‘second’ assist against Fenerbahce before scoring himself in the resounding 3-0 win. He also scored two more excellent goals in the return leg.

Sandwiching the Fenerbahce game at the Emirates was important Premier League clashes in London. The first, an away match at Craven Cottage and the second, the north London derby.

He was dominant against Fulham and had more touches than anyone. He also continued his impressive pass success rate, this time 89% (72 accurate passes out of 82).

Defensively, against the silky styles of Adel Taarabt and Dimitar Berbatov, he did well too. A tackle and interception a piece and two effective clearances meant Ramsey again went about his business without a fuss.

The real test was going to be against Tottenham’s new powerhouse midfield. Could he cope against the physical statue of Étienne Capoue and Paulinho?

You bet he could. He was excellent and although his passing wasn’t as accurate as previous matches (43 successful passes out of 55 – 78% pass completion rate), defensively he was outstanding and nullified the Tottenham threat.

He made eight tackles, three interceptions and four effective clearances to overshadow Tottenham’s new signings and help the Gunners to a north London derby day win.

Before 2013 most Arsenal fans felt Ramsey showboated too often, did needless back heels and often went for the Hollywood pass over the simple one.

It now appears differently. Ramsey does the simple things and every now and then his attacking exploits come to light. With Cazorla, Walcott and now Özil in front of the Welsh international he should continue to shine in his defensive midfield role.

He might be the reason Arsène Wenger didn’t buy a defensive midfield during the summer. Most believed that type of player was needed but might Ramsey’s influential performances show that the perfect player was already in place?

Wenger could have signed a defensive midfielder for various millions but picked Flamini instead, a free transfer. This could show that once again the French manager doesn’t want to spend money but I feel it shows an increased amount of faith put into Ramsey’s ability.

So whilst this weekend will be all about Özil making his debut - should he overcame an untimely bout of illness, don’t be surprised when Ramsey puts in a performance worthy of a man of the match award against Sunderland because it is becoming a regular occurrence this season.

If Ramsey keeps going about his business quietly but effectively he could be as key to Arsenal doing well this season as the flair players in front of him.

Do you agree Aaron Ramsey is crucial to Arsenal's season, now and in the future?

images: © wonker, © wonker

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