Aaron Ramsey's Stellar Season Will Become a Problem for Arsenal, Not a Solution
But he definitely is now.
In the space of a week, Ramsey chalked up a man-of-the match performance in Arsenal's opening Champions League match against Fenerbahce. He then followed that up with an assist and another strong showing against Fulham as the Gunners picked up their first win in the Premier League this year.
The midfielder then went one better in the return fixture against Fenerbahce—scoring both goals and leading the Gunners right back on to Europe's grandest stage.
While we'll never know whether they would have made it without him, we do know that with him, Arsenal are back in the group stage of the Champions League. And with the 22-year-old playing like he currently is, they'll again be a tough team to break down.
Playing in front of his home crowd, Ramsey showed again why he's one of the more underrated midfielders in world football. He netted two goals from just two shots, but it was his passing and control in midfield that stood out the most—completing a staggering 91 percent of his passes and making over 20 more passes than the likes of Santi Cazorla or Jack Wilshere.
His performance led to high praise from Arsene Wenger after the match, via Arsenal.com.
Wenger on Ramsey's performance: "I especially liked his second goal. It was a good finish... He is improving from week to week" #AFCvFEN— Arsenal.com (@Arsenal) August 27, 2013
However, as stellar as his season has been so far, the biggest question for Ramsey is whether he will still be considered as important come January—or even later.
Ramsey has filled an important squad role for the North Londoners throughout the past few years, and many would have assumed he would do the same again this year. Were it not for injuries to the likes of Mikel Arteta and perhaps even Abou Diaby, Ramsey probably wouldn't have even gotten a chance at playing the regular first-team football that he has so far this year.
Again, that's just speculation, but it's probably not that far off the truth.
Ramsey would not have played every minute of the Premier League season so far and all but a couple of minutes in a key Champions League clash were it not for injuries in the Gunners' squad. That's not saying Ramsey isn't good enough; it's just the truth.
So what should the Gunners do when their squad is healthy once more? Do they persist with Ramsey in the middle? Do they drop him back to a more "fringe" role?
And therein lies the problem Ramsey's form will create.
Granted, it's a problem Wenger probably won't mind having, but it's still an issue that will arise in a big way for the Gunners in the not-too-distant future.
Mikel Arteta is expected to return toward the end of September, per PhysioRoom. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will likely return not long after that as well.
In an ideal world, Arsenal will then have the likes of Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky all vying for spots in midfield.
Even if, say, one or two of those players are missing with injury (which would seemingly fit with the season so far for Arsenal), that's still six players trying to fit into four or five positions in midfield.
Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere and Cazorla—four players.
Defensive midfield, defensive midfield, attacking midfield—three positions.
And that's without even considering the prospect of another midfielder brought to the Emirates by Wenger in the final week of the summer transfer window.
The club has been chasing the likes of now-transferred Luiz Gustavo, per The Telegraph, and not-for-sale Lars Bender, per Sky Sports, so it stands to reason that another midfielder could be on his way for Arsenal. And if that happens, their "situation" becomes even more complicated.
Like any team blessed with a number of players capable of filling just a few positions, Arsenal will simply have to manage their squad and share playing time.
Bayern Munich will be forced to do it in a big way this season.
But the fact still remains that while Ramsey's incredible form might seem like a blessing right now for Arsenal in that their midfield still remains strong, the long-term implications aren't as straightforward. Wenger (and the fans as well) will have big decisions to make as to which players they want to play in big games this year and which players they'll leave on the bench.
And while Ramsey still has a fair few games to prove otherwise, it's hard to see the 22-year-old beating out the likes of Arteta or Wilshere for a starting spot.
Aaron Ramsey's improvement over the past 12 months is absolutely unbelievable. Arguably Arsenal's best player so far this season.— Tom (@FourFourTom) August 27, 2013
That's the problem, not the solution, Ramsey will bring to Arsenal this year.
Even if it is an extremely welcome problem to have.
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