Has injury helped or hindered Ramsey at Arsenal?

Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey is Mr Form at present – the Welshman has scored six goals in seven appearances for the Gunners in all competitions.

However, it wasn’t always plain sailing for the 22-year-old midfielder who suffered a broken leg via Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross in February 2010. The youngster, 19 at the time, had only just made his breakthrough into the Gunners’ first team after signing from Cardiff in 2008.

It was a long and likely painful road to recovery – first their was the time it took for the injury to heal, the emotional blow of being sidelined for so long and then their were the mental blocks that were evident when he returned to the game.

The actual injury to his lower right leg took no less than 8 months to mend and he made his return to football in November 2010 in a reserve game against Wolves. Arsene Wenger opted to loan him out to Nottingham Forrest from November until January 2011 and then he spent a month back at Cardiff on loan until Arsenal recalled him in February.

He made his first return to senior action for Arsenal against Manchester United in the FA Cup and scored his first Premier League goal of the 2010/11 season against United earning himself the Man of the Match award – Aaron Ramsey was back.

However, the 2011/12 season was marred by inconsistent form under concerted pressure and increased responsibility following the departure of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri that summer. Ramsey came under fire on numerous occasions for his sub-standard control, passing, movement, positioning and finishing and his confidence seemed to plummet to an all-time low.

He scored just 2 goals and made 6 assists in the league that season over 34 appearances and it looked as though, from a spectators' perspective, something had definitely been lost in the youngster who had shown so much promise.

Last term, however, he improved admirably and by the end of 2012/13 he was like a machine – his energy, work rate, movement, positioning, passing, tackling, marking and overall play rapidly improved and now, here we are September 2013 – three years and six months since his injury – and Aaron Ramsey is Arsenal’s best player on the pitch at present.

It’s not just his finishing and confidence in front of goal that has improved; it’s his reading of the game and his physical prowess in the middle of the park. He’s all over the pitch, he’s in everyone’s face, pressing and harassing the opposition, closing down, intercepting, charging forward and scoring goals.

He is the lifeblood of the team at the moment and I suspect, although no professional athlete would hope for an injury, in a silver lining kind of way, it improved him immensely – it was a long and painful journey and it’s perhaps not over yet – but the character and conviction he has now is that of a player who knows how hard he had to work to get here.

He’s enjoying every minute of every game he’s playing and, I suspect, when you miss so many opportunities to play, every chance is a gift and he’s grabbing hold of it with both hands.

image: © wonker

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