After watching the game between Chelsea and Arsenal there were of course several points to ponder.
Why were Arsenal so terrible at defending? Why do they seem so impotent against Chelsea? Why do they not have a player like Chelsea's Ramires?
The diminutive Ramires was quite simply a colossus for the Stamford Bridge side, precision passing, scintillating strength on the ball, and terrifyingly tenacious tackling. It was Ramires of course who played the pass through to Ashley Cole for him to square for Drogba's goal. Not only this but he had previously won the ball for Chelsea, before receiving it again and making the pass to Cole that led to Drogba's astonishing finish.
A far cry from last weekend when there were several calls that he had been "shown up" by Manchester City and that many people were worried about his adaptability to the English game. Such talk has proved to be a waste of oxygen after his excellent performance today.
Ramires seems to be a small fellow, as small as many of the Arsenal players who are frequently said to be too small for the EPL. The difference seems to be that Ramires is hard as nails.
By the look of this performance, he seems to be a good old-fashioned pint-sized center midfielder who none of the big guys will be able to mess with, through sheer force of will, like the little midfield marshals of old. When you regard the player, he looks as if he would break in half if he were hit too hard, but then when he plays you can see that he is in fact exceptionally strong, and more than ready for the rigors of the premier league.
This owes much to the country of his birth as there is a brutality about Brazilian football that is often forgotten by the global audience. After all, it is frequently the finesse of the Brazilians that is spoken about because of the fact that so many amazingly skillful and graceful Brazilian players make headlines in the leagues across the world. South American and Brazilian football in particular is probably the most brutal football in the world at times. How else do these amazingly skillful players keep coming out of the country? It is because they have to be gone before the tackler has a chance to touch them that they often become so good at doing so.
Players like Ronaldinho and Robinho are marveled at for the amazing skill they possess, but it is often forgotten that these guys are exceptionally robust and remarkably resilient. Ramires presents a different style again than these players, because he has made his name as a midfielder, and in Brazil the midfield is where the battle takes place. There is no room for shirkers or players who cannot take a tackle, they are quite simply, non-existent. Having grown up playing football in the midfield in such a place has actually conditioned him perfectly for what is often mistakenly referred to as the "hardest" league in world football.
While English football has a reputation as being a physical game, there is no real basis to this. On the world stage they are almost always outplayed by teams from South America because they simply do not have the ability to play with power and finesse. Two attributes that Ramires displayed in several different instances today.
Having cut his teeth in Brazil and had a taste of the continent with Benfica, Ramires appears to have reached the place where he will make himself a household name.
His positional play through the match was sharp and he also showed a willingness to get forward with pace when the opportunity arose. On the strength of his performance, it seems that it has just gotten a little more difficult for the opponents that will face Chelsea for the rest of the season.
The confidence was there to be seen from him in this match, and his confidence and determination to out-muscle larger opponents proved to be a pivotal factor in the decisiveness of his contribution in creating the game's opener.
He is in fact renowned for his exceptional endurance, and is known in Portugal and Brazil as the "Blue Kenyan" due to his outstanding stamina. This stamina was not even called into play today as he was subbed to an appreciative ovation by the Stamford Bridge faithful.
Carlo Ancelotti was almost caught out last season by the unavailability of Michael Essien, and Ramires seems to be a player who is quite similar. A true centre midfielder, capable of stopping and creating, a signing that could well become a key fixture in the Chelsea side of years to come.
Certainly someone that we will hear more about, it seems to this writer that we have been given a mere glimpse of what this player is capable of, and there is much more to be revealed.