Marseille vs. Arsenal: Action Man Aaron Ramsey is Arsenal's Hero Again

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2013

Aaron Ramsey has carried the sobriquet "Rambo" ever since he first arrived at Arsenal in 2008. However, his recent performances justify the allusion to cinema's great action hero.

After a period of poor form, Ramsey has been dramatically recast as a reliable warrior at the heart of the Arsenal midfield. His goal in Marseille proved to be the difference between three points and one in the Champions League tilt Wednesday, with the Gunners coming away with the 2-1 victory.

His improvements in front of goal have been startling. Prior to this season, Ramsey scored just five goals in 91 games. This season, he has already scored six times in seven appearances.

The change is down to confidence. Much has been made of Ramsey's physical recovery from the broken leg that threatened to derail his career. However, his comeback has been fueled as much by psychology as physiology.

In the immediate aftermath of Wednesday's win, Ramsey himself told Sky Sports: "I'm happy with the way I'm playing at the moment. I'm playing with confidence and putting them away at the moment. I feel like I've been getting in to good positions throughout my career but haven't quite had the composure."

Arsene Wenger, too, believes the key to Ramsey's success in front of goal is all in his head.

"It is outstanding and that is linked with his confidence, now every time he is in a good position he scores - scoring goals is like in cycles where sometimes it always goes for you," Wenger said, per Sky Sports.

When Ramsey arrives in goalscoring positions now, he believes he will score. There is a conviction to his shooting that we haven't seen in years.

That much was clear in his strike against Marseille. The 22-year-old Welshman bullied his way between three defenders before shooting low into the near post in the 83rd minute. The shot took a slight deflection on the way through, but it still had more than enough power to beat Steve Mandanda in goal.

While Ramsey's goals have grabbed the headlines, his all-around performance in Marseille was superb. In the first five minutes, he played two stunning 30-yard passes in the direction of Theo Walcott. Everything he does at the moment seems neat, tidy and effective.

The one blight on his performance was the concession of a late penalty, which allowed the Ligue 1 side to grab a consolation. However, this was more the consequence of ill fortune and harsh refereeing than any major error on Ramsey's part.

Ramsey wasn't the only British player to shine in this performance. Alongside him in the midfield, Jack Wilshere was outstanding, drifting in from his left wing position to take up the reigns as Arsenal's most effective playmaker. Wilshere's nimble dribbling and incisive passing even saw him outshine the wondrously gifted Mesut Ozil.

Kieran Gibbs was also superb at left-back. Not only did he clear off the line after a skewed mis-kick from Per Mertesacker, but he also galloped forward to create the opening goal for Theo Walcott. With Wilshere floating into a central position, Gibbs was tasked with dominating the entire left-hand side of the pitch. Remarkably, he pulled it off in style.

An away win is a terrific start to Arsenal's Champions League campaign. Rambo's European mission has got off to a great start.