The Arsenal midfielder is performing excellently for both club and country. He explains why…
Coming-of-age Welshman Aaron Ramsey, 22, is enjoying a contrast in fortunes.
In season's past, inconsistent form had become the result of a burgeoning career oft beset by injuries, particularly those to the foot, groin, calf and thigh, however, the Arsenal midfielder has emerged as a crucial cog in Arsene Wenger's top-of-the-league machine.
A slick, well-oiled goal-scorer, a metronomic passer, a successful dribbler, a dominant force in defensive positions, a holder of the footballer and a tackler, yes… there can be no denying it, Wenger's patience, loyalty to his youth policy and, above all, his coaching acumen, has seen Ramsey develop into not only one of the most important Gunners, but one of the most complete players in the division.
The Emirates outfit, with a 2:1 average scoreline for the season to date, host relegation-troubled Norwich City on Saturday afternoon, a side who have lost four of their first seven, who have conceded nine and have the daunting task of collecting points away from home against one of the clubs boasting some of the hottest form players in Europe.
Against Belgium, near enough everybody's favourite second nation, Ramsey scored the equaliser for Wales. He is confident that his composure in front of goal is no flash-in-the-pan, but form that will continue this weekend and throughout the campaign.
'In the past, I’ve got into positions like that and have not been so composed in front of goal,' he is quoted to have said by Daily Mail. 'At the moment I am confident and I am composed in areas like that. At the back end of last season I noticed the change, I got my confidence back and started playing some good stuff.'
Compared to last season, Ramsey is stronger when challenging for the ball. Last term, he lost far more duels - both in the air and on the floor - than he won, yet this season he is claiming the football with as much zeal as a rabid playground terrier.
His tackling, superb last season, is an ability he has retained this year, but what is really acting as the magnet for Premier League headlines is his ability in front of goal… just one returned for the whole of last season, in 36 games played and 2,086 minutes (one goal per 2,086 minutes). This season, four goals in 7 matches and 599 minutes (one goal per 149 minutes). His efforts on goal are more accurate and he has already tallied his assist haul for last season, by supplying two for his team-mates this campaign.
So, just what is the cause in this shift in consistency and form? It's simple, Ramsey explains: extra target practice, added calmness in his mentality and a general maturing.
'I’ve done shooting after training every day,' said Ramsey. 'Maybe I was a bit rash and rushed things instead of placing them and being calm in the situation which I am doing now. I think there is more to come. I am still only 22 and still need to learn a few more things which the bosses will inform me about, positioning and things like that defensively.'
Can a player seemingly at the top of his game get any better? Surely not. Ramsey disagrees: 'There is definitely more to come. I am looking forward to that.'
image: © wonker