Does Aaron Ramsey still fit into the current Arsenal system?

By Thomas Hallett
Aaron Ramsey

It would be harsh to cast Aaron Ramsey aside as a lost cause. Prior to his horrific leg break in 2009, the Welsh international had become the latest Arsenal youngster to rise to prominence in the Premier League. He had it all: quick thinking, the necessary technique to succeed in any Arsene Wenger side, and the desire and fearless approach that comes with any ambitious youngster. The incident at Stoke seems now to have completely altered the player’s planned trajectory, and valid questions and concerns are being raised as to Ramsey’s worth to the club.

It would be wrong to dismiss Ramsey as a player who will never be good enough for Arsenal; even at this stage and with a good number of Premier League and Champions League games under his belt, the player is still only 21. Regardless of how poor his performances can be, there is plenty of time for Ramsey to blossom into the midfielder so many had hoped to see.

But for the moment, Ramsey is not in a good place. You can’t totally blame his seemingly poor performances on him. The manager has persisted with him in unfamiliar positions on the pitch, whether that be out on the flanks or as the most advanced of the midfield three. He’s never given up the fight, and he certainly doesn’t look to hide away when things do not fall into place for him. However, would it not be best for the player to be taken out of the firing line, even if only for half a season?

There were reports last summer that the player was moving across London to Fulham for a season-long loan. The low-pressure environment and the chance to play regularly in the league without any great weight on his shoulders seemed to be the right cure for his slump. But right now, it appears that the manager has opted to place the moniker of ‘jack of all trades’ on the player; unfortunately, he hasn’t produced in any of the positions he’s played in this season.

The problem with Ramsey and Arsenal is that the team play a high-tempo game which needs excellent ball control. Playing in the middle of the pitch requires the mental and physical quickness to succeed in the Premier League, but Ramsey hasn’t shown that. Pushing him out on the either flank has seemingly been done to aid in his education and improve his speed of though. However, Ramsey is not a natural winger, nor does he possess the necessary attributes to be a success from the wide position. There’s very little pace to his game, and trickery is completely alien to a player who should be a natural in the middle of the pitch.

You’ve got to wonder how long the player’s development can continue to be stunted. The reactions from supporters are surely having an affect on the player, while the lack of consistently featuring in the starting XI also doesn’t help. Many Arsenal fans have given up hope, simply casting Ramsey aside with the other failed projects such as Denilson and Carlos Vela. But the Welshman does have a little something more. He doesn’t want to just concede defeat and admit that he’ll never fulfil the potential that made him such a highly coveted player prior to his move to Arsenal.

The club’s status in English football demands that it finishes in the top four each season. The club’s reliance on Champions League revenue and the need to remain competitive means any slip up or run of poor form is overanalysed and at times blown out of proportion. For a player who is still on the comeback trail from his injury, these surroundings do not always present themselves to be the most ideal.

Ramsey is very much seen as one of the British core of players at the club, but he certainly doesn’t share the same status as Jack Wilshere—the poster boy of the latest generation under Wenger’s managerial reign. Ramsey may yet become a vital piece of an ambitious group of players at Arsenal, but he’s missing something to bridge the gap between then and now. It was always important that he went out on loan to a Premier League club where he could properly get back to grips with life as a regular in the first team. Until some great improvements are found in his game, that option may be best for the player going forward.

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