2016, the year of the underdog. From Leicester’s title triumph to Wales’ European adventure, the man against the wall has survived. Not only have they survived, they’ve thrived. Aaron Ramsey embodies the underdog, his back is against the wall, out in the cold for two months, he has fought his way back, the question is now, will he crumble, or thrive?
Rewind 5 months, Wales are creating seismic waves in world football, Aaron Ramsey is the epicentre. Boundless energy, exquisite distribution, combative defending. The Welshman has it all, France have witnessed a tournament masterclass from a special midfield player. A tournament high 4 assists speaks for itself, not only has the midfield maestro rekindled his top form, he has done it on one of the globes biggest stages. Spearheading the dragons was an awe-inspiring Gareth Bale, a Welsh soldier. Providing the soldier with his ammunition was Ramsey. This wasn’t any old Ramsey, this was a player with his back against the wall, a point to prove, and boy did he prove it. Given the licence to roam, Ramsey was available at every possible moment, dropping deep when required, yet having the stamina to make lung-busting bursts to support Bale. The Arsenal man found a blend to his game that left the Gunners fans purring at what was to come, and with the signing of Granit Xhaka, Arsene Wenger finally had the tools in his armoury to the Welshman centrally, allowing the 25 year old to thrive.
Or so we thought…
After his European exertions, Ramsey earned himself a deserved rest, a rest that would benefit not only his upcoming season, but the destiny of the Premier League title. Things couldn’t be that simple though could they? After all, this is Arsenal we’re talking about, the last time we did something simply we had a certain Thierry Henry demolishing opposition defenders.
Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real success. For a man who has revolutionised the English game, ingrained a legacy to die for, Arsene Wenger was naive. The Frenchman has built a kingdom, he has the necessary defence lines, he has the offensive artillery, he has dedicated servants, perfection right? Not when you keep forgetting to lock the gates. The Welshman embodies the gate, year after year the 25 year old is rushed back, regardless of his condition, regardless of his injury record, he is thrown back into the front-line, ill-equipped. Liverpool pose the first test to Arsene Wenger’s progressively built kingdom, an artillery to be admired at his disposal, and what has he done? Forgotten to lock the gates. 61 minutes into battle, the Welshman falls, a casualty to ignorance.
10 weeks later, Arsenal are yet to lose a game, Wenger has learnt his lesson. Prolonging Ramsey’s return, the midfielder has had a full pre season, albeit mid-season, but with the resources at his disposal, Wenger can afford this luxury. Not only can he afford it, he has earned it. Throwing the Welshman back into the thick of the action would have been foolish, especially with the dreaded month of November upon us. A full squad, a full squad of fit players to be precise, is needed if the Gunners are to return from games against PSG, Manchester United and Spurs with not just the battalion intact, but with victories to boast.
2 games into Ramsey’s gradual transition and he has two assists to his name, all seems blissful. If only that could be the case. The Euro player of the tournament nominee found himself in back on the right, not only disrupting the fluidity of his progression, but that of the Gunners. A fluid forward line has now found itself interrupted. Despite Wenger proclaiming Ramsey is “a bit Lampard-ish” in that “he likes to get in the box, likes to shoot from distance & has similar qualities.”, the Arsenal fans will want to see the Frenchman’s words put into practice. With 28 battles yet to commence in the league, the Welshman will be needed, desperately needed.
Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. The warriors in red and white will hope to fulfil this prophecy, with Aaron Ramsey aiming to act as the Catalyst.