What next to get the best from Aaron Ramsey after Xhaka’s Arrival?

What next for Ramsey?
What next for Ramsey?

The addition to the Arsenal squad of Granit Xhaka has certainly got most Arsenal fans excited. Some are more familiar with him then others and most, like me will be looking forward to seeing him in action in France for his home nation Switzerland.

However, even those of us who do not claim to be Xhaka experts know enough to know that if Wenger sticks with 4231 our new signing will be one of the 2. Arsenal will not be making a statement like this in the transfer market and spending the money they are, unless the player is to be an upgrade on the first team. This in turn has and will lead to debates on social media about who would be his logical partner and for once Arsenal and Arsene, all things staying as they are, will be spoilt for choice.

Who to partner the new man?
Who to partner the new man?

He may well have a fully rested Santi Cazorla, for many the logical partner if Xkaka is an upgrade on Coquelin. This was after all the combination that saw us surge to the FA Cup final and victory in 14/15. Many will be hoping that Jack Wilshere comes through the Euro’s unscathed and having performed well. If he gets to play the deeper role centrally he is a prime candidate also. The England betting odds a Betway have the Three Lions as evens to beat Russia in the opening fixture and I suspect Wilshere will be pulling the strings.  Mo Elneny also had adapted superbly to English football and the idea of two strong and physical presences in the double pivot, will appeal in the big and tough away games perhaps. It will cause some Gunners memories to fondly drift back the glory days between 2002 and 2005 where Vieira and Gilberto, both strong, athletic and over 6 foot tall, dominated teams.

The observant will note I have excluded Aaron Ramsey from the above options and I know that for many he is a shoe in to the berth alongside our new Swiss signing. Many have been suggesting Wenger was merely waiting to have a controlling passer of the Arteta 13/14 ilk to bring out the best in Ramsey.  That is not an opinion I share but that is not to suggest I would discard the Welshman. His slows our game down when he plays deeper and his passing is not at the consistent standard of Cazorla, Wilshrere or Elneny. He also lacks the discipline on occasion and can leave his partner stranded.  This was pointed out by Invincible Martin Keown in March when he suggested Ramsey’s attacking instincts were killing Arsenal’s title challenge. None of this says he cannot perform the role but more questions why he should need to, if as Keown contends his natural game is to attack?

Ramsey is at his best in the opposition’s half and ideally in the attacking third of the pitch. The timing of his runs in the penalty area are instinctive and his give and goes on the edge of area to get in beyond can reap truly decisive rewards. In addition we all know he is a good finisher, the best of our midfielders. So if we want him more advanced and where he offers most threat and can play to his strengths does this mean placing him back on the right? He was effective there and a player of similar attributes in Freddie Ljungberg wrought great damage nominally from the right but is it ideal?

Used in his best role for Wales?
Used in his best role for Wales?

The answer to the Ramsey Conundrum may well lie in his role this summer for Wales in France. If Chris Coleman is true to his selection in qualifying, there is a very good chance that we will be watching our Welsh Gunner playing centrally just behind Bale. Coleman has a group of solid performers with good discipline and a work ethic but he leaves his 2 best players to stay further up the part to do the damage. This is where Ramsey wants to be and where all his attributes and talents are to the fore.

At this point many of you will be thinking that is all very well but he cannot play there for Arsenal as that is Ozil’s position. At Arsenal the 10 role has to be that of our chief play-maker. But does it actually? Arsenal fans were in uproar when Wenger played Ozil wide at the outset of the 14/15 season. “You can’t play the world’s best Number 10 on the wing!!!!” I guess the question is why not?

Spurs adjusted their structure and moved Eriksen nominally wide to allow Alli to do what he does best centrally. Erisksen was second only to Ozil in assist and Alli started scoring and assisting regularly. They did this with 2 sitting CMs. Of course Alli and the Dane are fluid but Ozil and Ramsey could be as well. After Ozil and Eriksen, 3 of the next four play-makers leading the PL assist charts were Tadic, Payet and Mahrez, all of who start wide, the first 2 in a 3 and Mahrez in a 4. Only Silva with 11 assists actually replicated Ozil’s 10 central role but we all know like Ozil he will drift anywhere to influence the game. Is playing Alexis and Ozil either side of Ramsey behind a new striker and in front of Xkaka plus one unthinkable?

Wider starting position to allow Alli central
Wider starting position to allow Alli central

Some might be concerned about Ozil’s work ethic, if having to be wide when the team is in defensive mode. Two years ago I might have agreed but not anymore as the German is easily one of the hardest workers in our team. It will be interesting also in June to watch the World Champions as they finished their winning campaign with Mesut wide and I have spoken with a few German Gunners who think Low may play him there in France.

Just some musings really but it is a fact that most of the most effective play-makers in our league are starting from wide. I could have added De Bruyne of course who barring injury would have been challenging Ozil for assists as well. I am sure anyway that Wenger will be watching if Wilshere is playing deep and centrally, Ramsey centrally and off the striker and Ozil play-making from wide next month.

Until next time



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  1. I see no place for Aaron – other than as a reserve / sub. He is simply not as good as several others in the heart of midfield. His main asset is sheer energy. It is not technique, awareness, positional sense, consistency. He does brilliant things occasionally but frequently slows everything down – or xxxxs up !

  2. You got me thinking Dave, in a good way. I was near certain Ramsey will start next season at right wing with Xhaka-Cazorla(Given Cazorla is fit) pivot. The blog makes a good case for a mobile/interchangeable three of Ramsey, Alexis and Özil behind the target man.

  3. @Chris
    I agree 100 per cent.Ramsey is just engine.Period.
    You put it wide left or right but his skiĺls are very very limited.The only thing i can see in him is to force do the dirty role lala Milner for Silva or Fletcher at man U.
    While i welcome additional body (Granit) but isnt he similar to Coquelin and not much from Elneni.

    Where is the playmaker ala Santi ? The loss of Santi
    To me it is the very reason we badly performed this season and so far nothing done about it.

  4. I dont see wenger sitting ramsey on the bench. I’d prefer him out wide upfront with alexis and a proper CF, Ozil in his fav no. 10 and xhaka and carzola in the mid OR Ozil wide orchestrating play with freedom to move in to the middle ramsey/ wilshere (IF FIT) in the middle as a no. 10 xhaka and cazorla in CM.

  5. You’re perfectly right and I’m very excited about an attacking midfield three of Ramsey, Ozil, and Alexis and the fact that we can have youngsters like Iwobi, Jon Toral, Adelaide, Serge Gnabry and even Chris Willock breathing down their neck gives such an exciting feeling. Don’t forget we were on course to winning the league when Ramsey was playing on the wings and I believe its the uncertainty and their mobility that confuses defenders. I believe a mobile lethal striker that can dribble and hold the ball up is what we need to complete our frontline.

  6. With all midfielders fit next season I see no place for Ramsey in the team. Useful to have on the bench and for squad cover but the sad reality is he just isn’t good enough to start for Arsenal.
    He plays like a schoolboy. Can’t pick his head up in congested areas and always unaware of what is around him. He’s an incredibly selfish player that plays for his own plaudits and not the team.
    No10 position is quite possibility the worst position you could put Aaron in. Poor control, poor awareness, poor passing and terrible under pressure. The No10 postion is often the most congested area to play and requires your most technical player to play there.
    If you actually think about it and look back. Ramseys best season was 12/13 playing alongside Arteta deeper in midfield. He played a more defensive role that season and was often deeper than Arteta. His goals came from arriving late at the box unmarked, ala Lampard. Problem is the goals went to his head and he started believing that he was an attacker and he’s just not. He needs to get back to basics, start playing for the team and sit a bit deeper where his energy will be useful and he’ll get more time and space on the ball to pick his head up.

    1. THIS! I’ve only been an Arsenal fan for 2 years and what you say is so blatantly obvious to me – the lack of technical skill and especially the selfishness. So many are in love with Ramsey because he had one good season several years ago. Just don’t get it. He’s nice to have for depth, but he doesn’t fit into a fully fit squad. I’d take Iwobi and even Campbell over him out wide. Would almost prefer to sell while he has value and invest in another Winger. If not him, than Walcott, need some fresh blood!

      1. I am being kind trying to suggest the only place he can play.I simply don’t understand guys I really respect see him SO differently to me

  7. People have to stop excusing Ramsey’s lack of willingness to expand his game. Freddie Ljunberg for example contributed to title winning teams as a winger, while being about as fast as Ramsey, but smaller, physically weaker and with less dribbling skills.

    When you have an Ozil in his prime, you play him in his best position, rather than shunting him out wide where he has to cover for Bellerin’s natural overlapping game.

    Ramsey, with his defensive ability, is the best natural partner for Bellerin on the right. If he wants to me.

    Real question for me is: how badly does Ramsey want to win, as opposed to being the “star”. I have my doubts about the fella, to be honest.

    I’d flog him off for max money and not look back at all. Not because he isn’t a big talent, but because he isn’t ready to make the sacrifice in terms of what’s best for him to give to the team in order to win. That for me is what characterised Wenger’s title wining teams. Lauren wanted to be a central midfielder, Ljunberg too. And Pires. But they all managed to adapt to other roles and give what was needed for the collective to succeed.

    Ramsey is wasting Wenger’s time and money. He could easily also play the role like Elneny or Coquelin or Xhaka as well. If he wanted to be flexble and win.

    Throw in Wilshere in that pot too, while we are at it. You just dont sacrifice a Ozil in his peak on the wing to make space for these half baked guys in the middle. That’s like using a Porsche to carry firewood.

    1. I have a honest question guys….
      Who can replace Santi without any compromise ????

      I really doubt we have one


  8. Ozil is a liability on defense, not due to any lack of work ethics, but simply because on the ball defense is not in his repertoire. His tackling is atrocious, and consists of merely flicking his foot out slightly as his opponent receives the ball and dribbles it past him. I realize that much of his work is “under the radar” but I just cannot recall any successful tackle he had made, nor interceptions, for a player whose strength (at least on attack) per many commentators is his intuitive grasp of space and positioning. He is an excellent attacking player but it is foolish not to realize his defensive frailties.

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