Ramsey opened the Gunners scoring at the KC Stadium on Sunday, providing a goal and an assist for his team after making his first full start on his return from injury since December last year.
The Welsh midfielder has been Arsenal’s talisman this term, especially early on, and has totalled 14 goals and 10 assists for the North Londoners across all competitions. Arsene Wenger’s side have a win percentage of 66.6% with Ramsey in the side and a 50% win rate without him this term.
Cast your mind back to the 2010/11 season and Ramsey wasn’t quite the complete midfielder or leader and talisman that is today for Arsenal but, at the time, club captain Cesc Fabregas was.
In many ways, Ramsey has emerged as the Spaniard’s natural successor this season, especially without the injured Jack Wilshere who had effectively been moulded in his former skipper’s image by the French coach.
In his final season at Arsenal, Fabregas made 25 Premier League appearances despite suffering a number of spells out of the team injured. At present Ramsey has made 21 appearances with three games left to play – the comparison between the two players doesn’t end there, however.
With Fabregas in the team that term, Arsenal’s win rate was 60%, which dropped to 30.7% without him.
Now, the Gunners have evolved a great deal since that period of time – the likes of Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Mesut Ozil have lessened the burden on one player. The days when Fabregas was expected to be the leader, the playmaker, the provider and scorer for the team are bygone and the weight of his role has been spread across a number of players, including Ramsey, Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky.
However, without Ramsey (and Ozil) this term, Arsenal have been reduced in terms of their threat and their defensive capability – Ramsey now operates in that Fabregas-esque role with bursting runs into the box as well as last ditch tackles in front of the back line too.
Ozil fills the void, along with Cazorla and Rosicky, of that attacking midfield role Fabregas used to own and Arteta has shifted back adapting into a holding midfield role, alternating with Mathieu Flamini.
With Ramsey out injured there was no player in the squad who could provide what he brings to the team and the play – not one who could make the same runs, take up the same positions, make the same tackles, and score the same goals. The only player I can think of who could fill that role is Fabregas who, incidentally, is not the most popular man at the Camp Nou at present.
The now 26-year-old former Arsenal skipper was booed off the pitch by Barcelona supporters in their match against Athletic Bilbao and, according to reports Arsenal and Manchester United remain linked with the Spain international – the obvious hitch would be the Catalans’ transfer embargo but, if possible, should Arsenal look into the potential of re-signing the fans’ favourite?