The ideal role for Aaron Ramsey?
It has been some five years now since Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey made his debut in senior football. His first touches came at the KC Stadium at Hull in April 2007, where he replaced Paul Parry on the Bluebirds left wing during stoppage time.
Jump forward to present day and Ramsey finds himself embroiled in the engine room of Arsenal’s midfield three pairing, aiming to thread through those intricate passes to the likes of Robin Van Persie to convert. But is the central midfield position the best that the man from Caerphilly can vacate? Let us identify why he may be better suited elsewhere going forward.
Ramsey’s major attributes include his innate passing abilities. Being two-footed he has the ability to pick a pass; whether long or short, and is one of the few Gunners players to often employ the cross field pass amidst the clubs tippy-tappy culture.
According to the Opta Index, Aaron Ramsey ranks a high fourth amongst 20 Premier League players judged upon their distribution abilities. He achieves 86.5% productivity per minute whilst on the ball.
Although it may be argued that Ramsey fulfils his current central position by spotting runners either side, gaining the full picture of Arsenal’s attack ahead of him, his talents could be much better employed further forward.
The attacking midfield position or glorified ‘number 10’ role requires skill, agility and the ability to create space. Ramsey is this man.
Mikel Arteta may disagree but a fully fit Arsenal side would include Alex Song sitting at the base of the midfield, Jack Wilshere slightly advanced and on his favoured left foot, with Ramsey at the forefront of this trio in a new attacking position.
Whilst Aaron creates many assists, he would be the first to admit he doesn’t score enough goals. His last Premier League goal and fifth league goal of his Arsenal career came way back in October in the defeat to Tottenham. At international level he has too notched five goals but in much fewer appearances; 20 compared to 56 league games at Arsenal. But why such a contrast?
Indeed, it was the late, great Gary Speed who used Ramsey in the attacking midfield mould and actually gave the midfielder the number ten jersey in the latest friendly international with Norway. Andrew Crofts and Joe Allen were employed as sitting midfielders in behind him. Ramsey is much more of an attacking menace in this position and can use his intricate passing skills to thread those eye-of-a-needle passes to the Bellamy’s, Morison’s and Van Persie’s of this world. Ramsey notched a goal from this very position in a rejuvenated Wales’ sides triumph against Montenegro, in the country’s final Euro 2012 qualifier back in September.
Arsene Wenger heavily relies on the goals of Van Persie as all Arsenal fans would admit, with the Dutchman hitting 22 in the league with second placed Mikel Arteta managing just four. Ramsey still remains on one but a move to spearhead the Arsenal midfield may heighten his fortunes.
It has been a long time since Arsenal fans purred over consistent goal tallies from the midfield positions including impressive hauls in the past from the likes of Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg.
It is now time for Wenger to alter his 4-3-3 formation and use Ramsey in an attacking midfield role to feed Robin Van Persie and kick start their most unpredictable of seasons to date.
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