Arsenal finally ended nine years of disappointment and questioning by winning the FA Cup final on Saturday, their first silverware success since winning the same trophy in 2005.
While Arsene Wenger might get plaudits for achieving the 3-2 win and, presumably, signing his new contract soon after, the ability of Arsenal to keep pressing forward in the match and eventually find a winning goal stemmed from Aaron Ramsey's improved performance as the game went on.
Lauded as the Gunners' top player this season and whose fitness may have impacted on their ability to achieve success in other competitions, Ramsey is clearly a player the club needs to place as central to their rebuilding plans for the coming years, certainly ahead of any other attacking players including Jack Wilshere or Mesut Ozil.
A game of (four) halves
Ramsey was poor in the first half, by and large; he failed to get on the ball enough to dictate play in a positive sense, he left Mikel Arteta isolated in front of the defence and yet was not in place to make his lung-bursting runs from deep into the opposition penalty box—the best feature of his current game.
After half-time, those runs from midfield increased considerably, giving Arsenal not only an extra body in attack but also somebody willing to run beyond the striker and threaten what was a relatively comfortable back five for Hull.
Extra time saw plenty of tired bodies around, yet Ramsey's direct, driving runs continued apace; his goal eventually came from one such break into the penalty box, while his finishing this season has been exemplary. That continued at a vital moment for the Gunners, as he notched the winning goal.
Getting the best out of Rambo
Arsenal have a plethora of talented, playmaking attacking midfielders. Wilshere, Ozil, Tomas Rosicky, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain...those players are, each in their own way, extremely talented and important parts of the side. However, could any of them claim to have given Arsenal the number of goals, points and game-changing moments that Ramsey has?
Almost certainly not this season.
Ramsey needs to have the freedom to play in midfield, centrally, yet have that ability to surge forward freely whenever possible.
At present that leaves Arsenal at the risk of being overloaded after transitions, with just one holding midfielder left to stand guard in deep areas. Flipping the midfield triangle, placing one holder at the base and having two players—Ramsey and Wilshere?—pressing and pushing on from in front would quite handily solve that issue without losing any technical ability or creativity going forward.
Ozil the Issue?
Of course, that means playing without a No. 10, and Arsenal just happen to have spent a club record fee on one of the world's best less than a year ago.
Mesut Ozil has been extremely hot and cold in his first season in England, but there is zero chance he will be offloaded or replaced in summer. Arsenal want the best out of him and rightly so—he's a huge talent, when on top of his game.
Perhaps, though, a free role from the right side in a 4-3-3 would not only allow him to make use of the spaces created centrally by no fixed No. 10 but also release him from the pressure of being the main conduit through which Arsenal attacked.
Either way, Ramsey has been by far the biggest influence on Arsenal's best performances and attacking moments this season, and it is he the team should be shaped around next year and with incoming transfers this summer.
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