Arsenal's key man Aaron Ramsey is back in training, Arsene Wenger confirmed yesterday, adding that he will 'hopefully be available' for this weekend.
The Welshman has not played since Boxing Day due to injury, and there really is no overstating just how important he became to the Gunners, voted their Player of the Month for the first three months of the season.
His form was integral to their rise to the top of the Premier League table, and his absence has certainly been felt in recent weeks as his return has got pushed further and further back.
Ramsey's rise had made all who wrote him off the previous year appear like laughing stocks, and showing just why Arsene Wenger kept faith in his talent, scoring a memorable winner away to Borussia Dortmund, and a superb strike in a home win over Liverpool.
But just how good was the Welshman's early season form? We took a look at that of Steven Gerrard and Yaya Toure, arguably the two most complete midfielders in the Premier League, to see how he stacked up, and he certainly holds his own.
Ramsey vs Toure and Gerrard gameweeks 1-19
|Player||Team||Pos||Goals / apps||Assist / apps||Won Tackle / apps||Interception Won / apps||Pass Accuracy %||Touches / apps||Apps||Mins|
|Yaya Touré||Man City||MF||0.50||0.17||0.94||0.83||90.62||87.00||18||1,607|
We took a look at the Toure and Gerrard's form over the first 19 gameweeks of the season, which covers up to and including Ramsey's last Premier League game against West Ham.
In all of the key areas, barring passing accuracy, Ramsey outguns one of Gerrard and Toure in each category, and when it comes to touches per game, he bettered them both.
Gerrard and Toure have certainly kicked on over the latter part of the campaign in some areas, and it's arguable Ramsey would have improved himself too. Here is a look at how his weeks 1-19 form, compares against Toure and Gerrard's entire season of work:
Ramsey's early season form vs Toure and Gerrard's entire seasons
|Player||Team||Pos||Goals / apps||Assists / apps||Won Tackle / apps||Interception Won / apps||Passing Accuracy %||Touches / apps||Apps||Mins|
|Yaya Touré||Man City||MF||0.59||0.17||1.07||0.66||90.26||83.79||29||2,510|
Ramsey averaged a goal almost once every two games, and an assist one in three. This assist ratio is bettered by Gerrard over the corresponding fixtures he played, but not one he has been able to maintain overall, narrowly at least.
The Arsenal man can boast he makes more successful interceptions and tackles than Yaya Toure, while his tackling is more efficient than Gerrard, and for the corresponding fixtures, only slightly worse off when it comes to interceptions per game.
Against both he can boast, via both comparisons, that he gets on the ball more and makes more touches per game than either player.
His impact is the sort which any side would miss if taken away, and his comeback, whether it be this weekend against Everton, or in the FA Cup semi-final is as perfectly timed as it is long awaited.