Arsenal travel to Old Trafford this weekend with the Wales international in superlative form – who of the home midfielders can stop him?
After the respective starts to the season for Manchester United and Arsenal, Sunday’s clash at Old Trafford has the ability to make quite the statement for either club.
One of the key components of the game will be whether the underperforming hosts can shackle Arsene Wenger’s dynamic midfield, with in-form Aaron Ramsey the talisman.
The home faithful will view a potential match-up of underwhelming Marouane Fellaini and the Wales international as a nightmare scenario, while Gunners fans will be rubbing their hands.
David Moyes will need to come up with a strategy to deal with Arsenal danger man, with Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs not having the athleticism to go the distance with Ramsey.
As such, it is likely to be either Phil Jones or Fellaini up against Ramsey, who has dazzled spectators with his eye for goal and insatiable work rate this term.
Jones is not a midfielder, but his physical attributes have led him to be deployed as an enforcer in front of the United back four on occasion. This may well be the plan again here, but the England international could also be needed to play at the back.
Fellaini has taken time to settle into life at Old Trafford, and is certainly yet to convince the United fans that he has the merits to play in a Premier League champion side.
However, against Arsenal, the stage could well be set for the Belgium international to make his mark and turn the negative opinion surrounding him on its head.
The former Everton man has size, physicality and a solid work-rate to his advantage, and in a game where Ramsey is getting from box-to-box, Fellaini looks like the best option to play against him.
A physical approach from a player who is committed, fit and persistent, like Fellaini, could be the best of the few options that Moyes has available to him.
If Fellaini was able to stifle Ramsey enough to allow United’s main ball players a chance to dictate play, he could well be an unsung hero in a solid home team display.
At the moment, the way a lot of United fans view the Belgian cannot get much worse, and as such Fellaini can only endear himself to the Old Trafford faithful with a hardworking display on Sunday.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald