Great Britain: A Review of Aaron Ramsey's Performance Against UAE
Aaron Ramsey was looking lively, superbly turning United Arab Emirates (UAE) defender Hamdan Al Kamali at midfield. The dash of inspiration forced a cynical foul from Al Kamani, who had been thoroughly bested by Ramsey's shift of pace.
After coming on as a substitute in Great Britain's Olympic opener against Senegal, the Arsenal midfielder was one of five Welshmen selected by manager Stuart Pearce to the starting lineup for Sunday's match against UAE. With the Senegal match having ended in a somewhat dissatisying 1-1 draw, a win against UAE, with Wednesday's match against Uruguay lurking ominously, was vital.
Ramsey played as an attacking midfielder/right midfielder, slotting in behind lone striker Marvin Sordell. The Bolton forward's movement was an essential component of Great Britain's excellent start to the match, with his dedicated work rate opening up space on the flanks that eventual Man of the Match (and fellow Welshman of Ramsey's) Craig Bellamy was able to exploit with abandon.
As any Arsenal fan could tell you, Ramsey is at his best when allowed freedom to roam about the middle of the park. While he mostly remained on the right fringes on Sunday at historic Wembley stadium, Great Britain's No. 15 (he dons No. 16 for the Gunners) slipped into deeper regions of midfield when afforded the opportunity.
And just as Ramsey had shown during his brief spell against Senegal, he looked a much livelier version of the version seen at club level toward the close of this past season.
His alertness was on full display, perhaps best seen when he picked out Tom Cleverly's run in the 43rd minute of play.
It was an inspired bit of vision from a man often derided for not having enough of it, and it was the latest indication in a burgeoning trend that that Ramsey is finally regaining the match sharpness that had been so much in evidence before that gruesome double fracture of his tibia and fibula in February 2010.
Ramsey's dribbling control, particularly in tight spaces—a skill which so frequently fizzled rather than sizzled last season—was also very much improved.
There is certainly still progress to be made—Ramsey's defensive contribution needs significant work, as he was bested all too easily in Great Britain's penalty area on one occasion, and he was guilty of some maddening lapses in concentration.
Whether it was lingering too long on the ball, or misjudging the necessary weight behind lofted diagonal balls that fell short of their intended targets, or inefficiency seen through extravagant flicked passes that were quickly intercepted, Ramsey is still far from a finished product.
But the recovery is well on track, and Pearce will certainly have been reassured that Ramsey went the full 90 minutes against UAE. Ramsey ended the match playing a more holding role in midfield.
His contributions on the evening will be overshadowed by the tremendous industry of Bellamy on the wing, as well as the superb quality of Daniel Sturridge (who replaced Sordell at halftime), whose chipped effort pushed Britain's lead to 3-1 in the 76th minute, but Ramsey's production will certainly not be forgotten.
The result sees Great Britain thunder to the top of their group with four points, where they are joined by Senegal, who defeated Uruguay 2-0 earlier in the day.
One would think that Ramsey's performance was evidence enough that he should be made a starter against Uruguay on Wednesday, in a match that will hold everything to play for.
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