Analysis: Are Jamie Carragher's doubts on Aaron Ramsey misguided?

Aaron Ramsey featured in central midfield in the win over Aston Villa.

Jamie Carragher told Monday Night Football that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is worried about playing Aaron Ramsey in central midfield due to his lack of defensive capabilities, the Daily Mail report.

Ramsey was selected to play in a central role during Arsenal’s latest 2-0 victory over Aston Villa, performing superbly well and getting on the scoresheet.

The Wales international has long stated his preference to start in the middle, yet Wenger has previously opted for the more defensive Francis Coquelin alongside playmaker Santi Cazorla.

Speaking on Monday Night Football, former Liverpool defender Carragher suggested that Wenger may be reluctant to start Ramsey there due to his lack of defensive capabilities.

“I think he is the next Frank Lampard, the next Steven Gerrard, it’s more the system that they play rather than criticising the player,” Carragher explained.

“But I don’t think Ramsey thinks defensively enough, I think that’s why Arsene Wenger, at times is worried about playing him there.”

Ramsey has played in a central role previously, yet the successful partnership of Coquelin and Cazorla meant that Wenger was seemingly forced to play him out in a wide role.

  VersusTacklesEffective ClearancesInterceptionsDef Duels Won Ball Recoveries
Francis Coquelin 2015 average per game 2.87 2.3 3.53 8 8.53
Santi Cazorla 2015 average per game 1.3 0.76 1.52 5.55 8.39
Aaron Ramsey versus Aston Villa 5 0 2 7 9

As shown by the table provided by Opta, Ramsey’s defensive capabilities against Villa compare extremely well to both Coquelin and Cazorla – interestingly bettering the latter in a number of key areas.

At the weekend, the former Cardiff City man added five tackles, two interceptions, seven defensive duels won and nine ball recoveries – proving on this occasion how Carragher’s doubts are perhaps misguided.

Coquelin and Cazorla’s averages are taken from the beginning of the 2015, roughly around the time the duo successfully formed their partnership and became such key players for the club.

The injures to them both leaves Arsene Wenger short of midfield options, but Ramsey’s performance against Villa at least proves he has what it takes to fill in there.

The 24-year-old ace acted as a box-to-box midfielder, instigating attacks from deep and contributing greatly to the defensive side out of possession.

It was he who began and finished Arsenal’s second goal, first winning the ball back from Idrissa Gueye in midfield before pushing up and getting on the end of Mesut Ozil’s superb pass.

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