Chris Coleman has admitted he was “surprised” Arsène Wenger selected Aaron Ramsey for Arsenal’s opening game of the season and also questioned whether the hamstring injury the Welshman picked up against Liverpool could have been prevented if he had been given more time to recover following Euro 2016.
The Wales manager said that Ramsey’s injury, which has ruled him out of the opening World Cup qualifier against Moldova in Cardiff on Monday week, was a major disappointment. Wenger has since admitted that he “pushed Ramsey” for the Liverpool match, leaving Coleman wondering why other players returning from Euro 2016, at Arsenal and elsewhere, have been given more opportunity to rest.
Ramsey is the only Arsenal outfield player who featured at Euro 2016 and started against Liverpool, and that decision has proved a costly one. It seemed a strange one on Wenger’s part, given that Ramsey anticipated missing the start of the season. He said after Wales lost to Portugal in the the European Championship semi-final, a game for which he was suspended, that the Arsenal manager likes to give players “a little break and I’ll be getting the same treatment”.
Coleman sounded a little bemused by what has gone on. “I think we all expected him to [miss the start of the season], so I don’t know what happened between then [when Ramsey made the comment] and when he ended up on the pitch,” the Wales manager said. “I think, to a man, if you were looking at that [team-sheet against Liverpool], it was a bit of a surprise he started. I think Aaron said himself [in France] that he wasn’t expecting to.
“If you look at Rambo’s physical stats, they’re higher than anybody on the pitch in terms of his high-intensity sprints and the kilometres he covers. But he’s still a human being, and it’s not like we were knocked out in the group stage – it was a long tournament for Aaron, after a long hard season. So I don’t know why he was treated differently. For me as a manager, when I’m missing one of my best players, I think anybody would understand my disappointment.”
Germany’s Mesut Özil and England’s Jack Wilshere have both made only one substitute appearance for Arsenal so far, against Leicester on Saturday. Granit Xhaka, the Switzerland international, came off the bench against Liverpool and started against Leicester, when Laurent Koscielny, who was part of the France team that reached the Euro 2016 final, made his first appearance of the season. Olivier Giroud, another Frenchman, kicked his first ball for Arsenal as a substitute in the draw at Leicester.
Asked about how Ramsey has been handled, Coleman said: “I think Arsenal have a certain way of doing things. A lot has been said about their injury list, they’re doing the same things now as what they’ve always done – they’re not going to change now. That’s up to them, Aaron’s Arsenal’s player.
“I’ve got to say that I look at it and I’m disappointed because we’ve lost a great player. I’m not going to say ‘In hindsight’, because I’m doing a job myself and I make decisions and sometimes look back and think I shouldn’t have made that decision. So I won’t use that against Arsenal. It’s disappointing that we haven’t got him, it’s disappointing he’s got an injury. Could it have been prevented? Possibly, yes. But the fact is we haven’t got him, unfortunately.”
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