Here’s a sentence I never believed I’d write: at the moment, Aaron Ramsey is outshining Jack Wilshere.
For the second game in succession, Wilshere looked subdued and off his game. Ramsey, on the other hand, was at the heart of everything positive about Arsenal.
It’s not merely a question of perception. The stats back it up. According to Squawka.com, Wilshere made 30 passes, completing 77 percent. Ramsey made 76 passes, more than double Wilshere’s tally, and completed fully 86 percent.
The Welshman also made five tackles as compared with Wilshere’s one.
Ramsey’s performance is summed up best by a glance at Squawka’s heat map:
Simply put, Ramsey was everywhere.
The recent transformation in his form has been nothing short of bewildering. The catalyst, however, is remarkably simple: he is playing in his true position.
For much of the last two years Ramsey has been deployed as a winger, a number 10 and even a full-back. Finally, he is getting a run in the team in the position that suits him best: central midfield.
It’s not rocket science. Now that he’s playing in the position best suited to his attributes, we’re seeing him flourish. When he was asked to toil out on the wing, Ramsey would visibly struggle and the crowd would quickly be on his back. In the centre, his confidence is growing and his potential is slowly being realised.
Ramsey has rarely looked as physically powerful as he did last night. He faced the challenge provided by the likes of the towering Marouane Fellaini and met it head on. When others threw their hands up and looked pleadingly at the referee, Ramsey gritted his teeth and got on with it.
It’s all the more impressive when you consider the horrific injury he suffered at Stoke in 2010. The physical scars have healed, and it seems the psychological scars are fading, too. Ramsey is as fearless as he is tireless.
Earlier this season it looked as if Ramsey’s once promising Arsenal career might be petering out. He had become a lightening rod for the frustration of the Arsenal fans, and few would have shed a tear had he departed in January.
Now, arguably for the first time since recovering from that terrible leg break, Ramsey’s path to being a regular starter is becoming clear. If he continues to develop in to a reliable, powerful midfielder, he could potentially inherit Mikel Arteta’s role at the base of Arsenal’s midfield.
It would be just reward for a player who has worked so hard to get back to the top of his game.