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Aaron Ramsey is a player that divides opinion amongst Arsenal fans and this season the doubters have had more reason than normal to question his worthiness of a place in the team. Much like his team, Ramsey’s form has been mixed and he has struggled to put a string of consistently high level performances together.
His best season for the Gunners was certainly the 2013-14 campaign when he appeared to put his injury problems behind him and graduate from promising youngster into a dangerous goalscoring midfielder at the top level. He appeared in 36 of Arsenal’s Premier League games that season and netted 16 goals in all competitions.
However two seasons on and he still has plenty to prove. A series of hamstring problems have again stunted his progress and he was again forced off with an injury in the FA Cup win at Hull on Tuesday that could further disrupt his mixed campaign.
There have been high points and he netted the opening goal in the biggest North London derby in many years. His goal threat has diminished somewhat overall though and he has just 6 goals in 34 appearances this term, but with Jack Wilshere a long-term absentee and a slight twinking in Arsenal’s style he has mostly been asked to fill a more defensively-minded midfield role which can to some extent explain that.
Wenger’s faith in Ramsey seems to have grown and he has started 25 of Arenal’s 29 Premier League games this term with injury accounting for the games he has missed. However Ramsey’s strength is not as a holding midfielder and most certainly not as a central defender where he briefly had to fill in at the KC Stadium.
At times in the Premier League this season Arsenal have been out-battled in midfield and against the elite sides in Europe such as Barcelona who they face again next week, they will certainly be out-passed.
Not a holding midfielder
Ramsey does a job there and gives his all but is surely not the long-term answer and would most likely fall back to a bit-part role should Jack Wilshere ever return to full fitness and his best form.
The Welshman is best employed as a midfielder that has licence to ghost into the box and get into positions to score goals but by the same token it is hard to see him dislodging the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
Ramsey’s Arsenal career is at something of a crossroads. He is at worst a very useful player who can be employed in a number of positions across the midfield and with Arsenal a team prone to injuries, his versatility certainly makes him a big asset.
Versatility could prove costly
However like many players of that ilk, his versatility may cost him the opportunity of ever cementing himself in one position in this Arsenal team.
Critics would argue that he hasn’t offered enough consistently enough this season when he has played in either as an attacking right-sided midfielder or in a defensive central role.
There may be some truth to that and if Arsenal are to truly push on to the next level with or without Wenger, then Ramsey is more and more likely to fit into the useful utility player category than key first-teamer which he certainly became only a couple of years ago.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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