25 Sep 2020 5:21 PM +00:00

Arsenal: Aaron Ramsey proves his worth to Gunners

(Photo credit: joshjdss)

It didn't seem possible from the position he was in but Aaron Ramsey, contorted and twisted, somehow managed it. Mesut Ozil's looping pass looked headed for his thigh. It looked like he could only hope to control the ball.

Ramsey had beaten Sergei Ignashevich and Georgi Schennikov's offside trap. He had, as he always does, found space in the box, ghosted in unnoticed, neglected. Perhaps it was because no one expected what he would do.


In a motion of pure athleticism and technique, he lifted his right foot towards the ball and with the outside of his foot flicked it over the head of CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev. Akinfeev, who had only edged narrowly off his line. Akinfeev, who looked as surprised as everyone else when the ball nestled in the net behind him.

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What was perhaps most impressive in all of this, aside from the unerring nonchalance, was Ramsey's awareness, his vision. He did not so much as glance at Akinfeev as Ozil's pass drifted through the air. It seemed the flick towards goal, executed with the perfect amount of weight and spin on the ball, was instinctive.

An innate talent

There has always been something innate about Ramsey's ability. It was evident throughout against CSKA, as he repeatedly found space in advanced areas and tormented the Russian side's ageing defence.

This season, though, performances like this have been all too sporadic. The Welshman has been held back by injuries and often by the shortcomings of his teammates, but there is a feeling he is capable of more.

For Arsenal, who have in recent months regularly been linked with signing midfielders, Thursday night was an indication that they have an exceptional one already at the club. What they must do to make these performances routine is not yet clear.

It has often seemed that Ramsey's role in the team is unclear, that Arsene Wenger is unsure how to best utilise his talents. But, given the freedom to get forward and roam in advanced areas, he is inimitable.


"When Ramsey plays game after game he's not only involved in the build-up, he's now calmer in his finishing," said Wenger.

His second goal against CSKA was spectacular but there were examples throughout of what he offers this Arsenal team, and it is unique. By the end, it was remarkable that Ramsey had not completed a hat-trick.

Insatiable appetite

Early on there were signs that he and Mesut Ozil - excellent on the night, too - were in the mood to inflict serious damage on their opposition. Ramsey had an effort ruled out for offside but this was one of those evenings where his appetite for goals was insatiable.

He wanted them and he got them, the first an emphatic finish having latched onto a Hector Bellerin cross. Then came his brilliant second before the half-hour mark. A third, at some stage on the night, seemed inevitable.

Ramsey came close in the second half, striking a rebound over the bar from close range and then hitting the post with a curling effort. There was to be no hat-trick, but there was something of a realisation, an appreciation: Ramsey, at his best, is Arsenal's most talented midfielder.

Time running out


The focus for much of this season has been on Jack Wilshere's revival, his return as a regular after years of debilitating injuries and a season on loan at Bournemouth. Arsenal would do well, though, to ensure that Ramsey is the focal point of their midfield in the coming years.

He is, however, approaching the final year of his contract with the club and there has been speculation that he might leave. One gets the feeling that the next few months might prove pivotal in deciding where Ramsey's future lies.

At 27, he is at his peak and, as was in evidence on Thursday night, capable of much, much more. For Arsenal, it is about ensuring that there are more such performances at the Emirates.

What does the future hold for Aaron Ramsey? Let us know by commenting below.