Arsenal FC: Arsene Wenger's Persistent Trust in Aaron Ramsey Is Vindicated

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Arsenal FC: Arsene Wenger's Persistent Trust in Aaron Ramsey Is Vindicated
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger's persistent faith in Aaron Ramsey has positioned the Welshman to grow into a world-class defensive midfielder. 

The statute of limitation on the amount of leeway afforded to Ramsey's performance following his gruesome injury against Stoke City ran out. 

He went from being cast as a sympathetic figure to one of derision.

A passenger, a social loafer, a player with limited upside and the type of footballer representative of the Gunners' inability to win trophies.

During the 2011-12 season, 19 of Ramsey's 27 Premier League starts came as an attacking midfielder, but he only registered four assists.  

Royston Drenthe had five assists even though he started 10 games for Everton.

Wenger went down the slippery slope of validating his trust in Ramsey by throwing the Welshman out wide.

Wenger's tactical adjustment was bound to fail considering Ramsey's safety-first approach to passing and his lack of incisive dribbling.  

His playing style was the complete opposite of Alexander Hleb, who went from starting at the top of Matthias Sammer's 4-4-2 diamond, getting 14 assists for Stuttgart during the 2004-05 Bundesliga season, to being a tricky winger at Arsenal.

"Different things are going through your mind when you are playing out right to when you are playing through the middle," Ramsey told John Cross at The Mirror. "You can’t get through that routine of where you want to play."

Stu Forster/Getty Images

The most pertinent lesson Wenger learnt last season was the emergence of Ramsey as a defensive midfielder. 

What was a source of criticism, Ramsey's conservative passing in advanced positions became a vital part of his success in a deeper role. 

That said, everyone knew his passing accuracy was always his main strength. 

It was his exponential improvement in winning back possession that was astonishing. 

Do you know who won 90 percent of his tackles last season? 

Not Arturo Vidal (71). 

Could it be Morgan Schneiderlin? 74, try again.  

What about Maxime Gonalons? No, he had a 81 tackling percentage. 

Lars Bender? Same tackling percentage as Gonalons.

It's Ramsey who had a 90 percent chance of winning the ball every time he went for a tackle in league play.

In a statistical evaluation of select players who made 60-65 tackles, Étienne Capoue, Gary Medel, Marouane Fellaini and Andrea Pirlo didn't come close to Ramsey. 

Photo via Squawka.com

Ramsey not being a full-time defensive midfielder last season does distort his tackling percentage. 

At one point in the season, the tackling percentage of Marquinhos, Roma's fantastic centre-back, was in the high-90s, but it dropped to 84 as the season progressed. 

However, the irrefutable fact about Ramsey's sub- and position-affected season is that his defensive averages are still comparable to other esteemed midfielders. 

 

LEAGUE ONLY Tackles Per Game Interceptions Per Game Starting % [1] Tackling %
Michael Carrick 2.3 2.1 94.4 70
Javi Martínez 2.3 1.9 70.4 84
Ilkay Gündogan 2.3 2.3 92.9 80
         
ARSENAL FOCUS        
Mikel Arteta 3.2 2.9 100 69
Aaron Ramsey 2.0 1.2 58.3 90
Santi Cazorla 1.9 1.9 97.4 77
Abou Diaby 1.7 2.2 90.9 74
Jack Wilshere 1.3 1.0 80 85

 

[1] Footballer "Z" starts 10 games and is subbed on 12 times. Z's starting percentage will be calculated by the total amount of games he played; i.e. 10/22 = 45.5 starting percentage.

Under a lesser manager with a trigger-happy mentality, Ramsey wouldn't have survived. 

Paul Merson once attempted to psychoanalyse his former manager: "Wenger's just stubborn," from Sky Sports, via Tony Leen at the Irish Examiner

Amidst the plethora of naysayers (I was one of them), Wenger's headstrong stance that Ramsey is Arsenal quality is vindicated. 

 

 

Follow @allanjiangLIVE

Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.comFox Soccer and Squawka.com

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