Arsenal Man of the Match vs Aston Villa: Aaron Ramsey

Julian Finney

On an evening with a lot of poor performances, Ramsey easily stood out as Arsenal's best player.

At this point, it's becoming difficult to see what Aaron Ramsey has to do to get credit for his performances. While he tired out last season, losing the consistency and class that he showed at the beginning of the campaign, he's been much better this season, moving the ball more quickly, and showing more purpose with his passing, which was, at times last season, lacking in purpose. He continued this trend against Aston Villa, deputising for the rested Jack Wilshere. In a box-to-box role, Ramsey was excellent. He completed 90% of his passes, and, unlike Mikel Arteta, was able to get forward to supplement the creativity of Santi Cazorla, completing 24 out of 26 passes in the attacking third.

One criticism of Ramsey from last season is that his shooting was inaccurate, and while he only had one on target in Saturday's match, he had the confidence to take more shots, leading the team with four. One was flashed just wide late on, while the other was just missed from a difficult angle after Ramsey made a very good far post run. Ramsey spoke in the week about regaining his confidence, and he seemingly has started to, with Saturday's performance his best in a year. It was a classic Ramsey display; excellent, play-knitting passing, with some very good switches of play, and good late runs into the box.

Ramsey's best performances for Arsenal have always come in conjunction with another probing, creative player. Before his broken leg, he played very well with Cesc Fabregas, and in that 1-0 victory over Manchester United, Ramsey played really well with Jack Wilshere. With Santi Cazorla the #10 this season, Ramsey seems to be playing with more freedom, and with less onus on him to create, he's been given more license to be the type of player that he is. Ramsey's future with the club certainly seems better suited to a box to box role; he's a decent dribbler, and with his work ethic, he can certainly make those dynamic breaking runs from midfield that is more typical of Abou Diaby or Jack Wilshere.

A box to box role also means that Ramsey doesn't have to try to be a player he isn't. He doesn't have Cesc Fabregas' penchant for devastating final passes. What he does have is a wonderful ability to link play, play some through passes and chipped passes, and make good, late runs into the penalty box. All of this was on display against Aston Villa, and though Arsenal didn't score, it wasn't for a lack of trying from Ramsey, who at times literally drove Arsenal forward. It's about time Ramsey starts getting praise for his performances, but, unfortunately, it seems that because some fans have unattainable expectations for him, he'll continue to get needlessly blamed.


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