Aaron Ramsey has amassed more Premier League assists (six) than any other Arsenal player so far this season. However, he has only made six league starts under Unai Emery and is set to leave the Emirates Stadium as a free agent upon the expiry of his current contract at the end of the campaign.
After a decade with the north London club, in which time he has made 348 appearances and won three FA Cups (scoring the winning goal in two of the finals), Ramsey’s time with Arsenal is drawing to an end after the club withdrew their offer of a new deal in September.
Given it has been decided that the 27-year-old’s future lies elsewhere, it isn’t surprising that Emery is seeking solutions for how to get the best out of his team without Ramsey. Yet, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan currently in poor form and Mesut Ozil himself in and out of the starting XI, the Gunners are perhaps making a costly error in failing to embrace Ramsey’s talent whilst he remains at their disposal.
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The club may even be making a huge mistake in allowing him to leave at all.
In Sunday’s north London derby, the 58-cap Wales international showed once again what he is capable of when called upon. With the Gunners 2-1 down at half-time, Emery turned to the club’s longest-serving current player to go and make the difference in the second half.
In just 45 minutes, the No. 8 was instrumental in turning the fiery fixture on its head and inspiring the home side’s remarkable, and deserved, comeback to triumph with a 4-2 scoreline over their bitter rivals.
The Welshman made only 23 touches in his time on the pitch, but that was enough for him to change the game. Each of his two key passes were converted into assists as both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lucas Torreira expertly converted their chances. He also had three attempts on goal himself, as Arsenal established their dominance in the second half.
Ramsey also chipped in with his defensive duties, as he engaged with the relentless pressing, harrying and tough tackling that epitomised the Gunners’ approach to the match. He made to two tackles in contribution to his team’s cause.
On derby day, the midfielder certainly delivered a performance to make the decision to sanction his exit an extremely questionable one. Sunday also proved that despite Emery’s best efforts, the Arsenal boss cannot yet cope without Ramsey.