It was not a vintage performance from the Gunners as they earned a point in the bore draw against Chelsea. Though there were positives for both sides from the game, it was not one of the high-octane games of the season and there were less opportunities for both sides to win the game. Arsenal suffered a disappointing loss to Wigan, and their defense was shambolic in the game.
But with Arsene Wenger deploying his first-choice back five, which included Laurent Koscielny and Kieran Gibbs, they looked much more solid at the back against Chelsea. Koscielny was yet again very impressive, as he has been for most of this campaign. In the Frenchman's first season, he was indecisive and had a tendency to make crucial errors through a lack of concentration, but with the support of the players, manager and the fans, he has gone on to establish himself as one of the best defenders in the Premiership.
One player who has received immense criticism from the Arsenal fans this season is the Welsh captain, Aaron Ramsey, who started in place of the injured Mikel Arteta against Chelsea. Like Koscielny in his first season, Ramsey has not looked completely comfortable this season and has frustrated plenty of fans this season with his performances. Though critics are justified in pointing out some of his mistakes and performances this season, it is also important to understand that it has been a very difficult season for the youngster.
The former Cardiff midfielder was beginning to establish himself as a regular in the 2009-10 season when his leg was injured by a horrific tackle by Ryan Shawcross. It ruled him out for more than a year, and after short-term spells with Cardiff City and Nottingham Forest in the championship, the Welshman returned to Arsenal for the final few games of the last season.
In the preseason, Ramsey was one of the best players for Arsenal, forming an excellent partnership with Jack Wilshere. The summer was not good for Arsenal, as they lost Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and also, Wilshere was ruled out due to injury for this season.
Ramsey was thrust into the pressure from the start of the season and has had to handle huge responsibility this season. It would have been difficult for most midfielders in the world to replace Fabregas and for Ramsey; it was even tougher considering that he had missed an entire year of football so early in his career. The arrival of Mikel Arteta from Everton before the close of the transfer window was one of the smartest pieces of business in this transfer window, and the Spaniard has brought stability to the midfield.
Though he had a difficult start to the season, he also had some very good games, most notable being the exciting 5-3 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, where Ramsey was very influential. The Welshman also had good games against the likes of Wigan and West Bromwich Albion when he looked comfortable being in the team. Ramsey is a player with a great engine and work rate, and by the end of December, he was already looking tired, and as a result, his form suffered a sharp dip, which was worsened by the injury to Arteta, who has been very good throughout this season.
The Welshman has been in and out of the starting lineup in 2012 and has been criticized by many for his performances this season. It is clear that he sometimes takes too long on the ball and his defensive awareness is also questionable. Also, he is not as fluid in his touch and passing game as Arteta is, and he can further improve his technical ability for sure. He has been dispossessed far too many times to the liking of Arsenal fans, who are divided on Ramsey's quality.
Also, he has been woeful with his finishing so far this campaign and could have scored plenty more if he had been more clinical. However, the good thing for him is that Wenger has shown great trust in his ability, and the midfielder has the chance to develop into a world-class midfielder in the future. He is a player with excellent work rate, very good passing range and great vision and also has shown great determination this season. It is still questionable if he has reached the level that he was in before his injury.
It is clear that he is not very confident in front of goal, but he has not shirked away from getting in the right positions. He has not been afraid of making mistakes when he is on the pitch and has always asked for the ball and looked to influence the play for the Gunners. Even Cesc Fabregas in his first two full season scored only eight goals, but with more experience and composure in front of goal, he established himself as a goal-scoring midfielder. Ramsey gets into dangerous positions regularly, and with more composure, he could easily become a 15-20 goal midfielder in the future.
Also, with more playing time on the pitch, he will only become more sharper and will develop technically as well. Alex Song was also not technically good two years ago, but now, he has developed both technical ability as well as creative vision and passing, which has enabled him to assist several goals this season. Ramsey is not a natural dribbler, and if he has a dribbling type midfielder behind him such as Jack Wilshere, he will benefit greatly, as it will give him more scope to influence play from deep midfield as well.
Though he has been frustrating in many games this season, Arsenal do have a fantastic talent in Aaron Ramsey. The late Gary Speed, who was also the Wales manager, appointed Ramsey as the captain of the national team because of his talent as well as his attitude, and the Welshman is bound to come good with more confidence and playing time. It is important that he enjoys the game at this stage of his career and he has the quality to be a world class player in the long-term. With three crucial fixtures left in the campaign, Ramsey will have to show his quality to ensure that the Gunners gain maximum points from these fixtures.
It is understandable that he has come under fire for his lacklustre performances, but the Welshman is a special talent, which is why Wenger has given plenty of playing time for the youngster. Ramsey has shown great tenacity in the face of adversity and should be given the support and confidence to emerge from this slump to become a superb player in the future.