Aaron Ramsey. The Best Player in the Barclays Premier League?
Just as most English fans were sick and tired of a Welshman being the best player in the Premier League, another one comes along. Last season, Gareth Bale was undoubtedly the best player in the Barclays Premier League, more or less dragging Tottenham to a fifth placed position. Bale finished the season with 26 goals in all competitions for the North London club before he made his famous transfer to Spanish giants Real Madrid at the end of August 2013.
Bale, although finished the season with Tottenham in a disappointing fifth placed position, ended last season's campaign with all the individual accolades. He was awarded both PFA Player and Young Player of the Year by his peers in the league, and also won the FWA Footballer of the Year which is awarded by journalists and reporters from around the country.
Arsenal fans must have been glad to see the back of one Welshman in North London but little did they know they would be worshiping one themselves in this campaign.
Aaron Rasmey has had unquestionably the season of his life thus far and only looks to continue his tantalizing form into the new year.
Seemingly a long time ago now, but most Arsenal fans wanted him out of the club at the end of last season due to his mediocre performances and ambition going forward on the pitch. In the previous campaign Ramsey was used as a more versatile player. Arsene Wenger favoured Arsenal favourite Jack Wilshere and Spanish veteran Mikel Arteta in the central midfield roles last season and sometimes played Tomas Rosicky ahead of Ramsey in his more preferred position. Ramsey had to compromise get playing minutes and ended up playing in several positions which included playing on both flanks and the odd half at full back.
Ramsey finished the last campaign with a mere 2 goals in 47 appearances for the gunners in all competitions, and only 3 goals in 44 games the season before. The most alarming statistic was that Ramsey had only scored 3 goals in a total 70 Barclays Premier League games in the past two seasons for the gunners. Fans had a right to be frustrated with the Welshman;, especially when his compatriot was scoring goals for fun just up the road for Spurs.
March 2013 was a month where Ramsey earned himself a bit of luck in regards to getting himself into the Arsenal starting line-up. Mikel Arteta had obtained an injury which kept him out for a number of weeks. Arsene Wenger put his faith in Ramsey by selected him in the holding midfield role for the team. Subsequently Arsenal hit their best form of the season and Ramsey was named Man of the Match against Brighton & Hove Albion in an away FA Cup tie.
Ramsey finished the season strongly and cemented himself in the Arsenal midfield. He continued his form into preseason and scored a number of goals; most notably one against Manchester City in which Arsenal came out as 3-1 winners.
The 2013/14 season would be a big one for Aaron Ramsey. Either he would fulfill his potential or it seemingly might be his last season as an Arsenal player. However he did start the campaign terrifically when Arsenal were drawn against Turkish runners-up Fenerbache in the UEFA Champions League final qualifying round. Ramsey was instrumental in the away leg in Istanbul, he scored the opening goal and won the Man of the Match award. Ramsey added two more goals to his European form in the return leg at the Emirates where he was also awarded the Man of the Match award.
Some believed that Ramsey might have been the player which had to be sacrificed with the arrival of superstar Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid. However with Arteta receiving yet another injury, Ramsey was still in the line-up, but this time on merit. Mathieu Flamini returned to the club on a free transfer and was given the holding role in the team by Arsene Wenger and this meant that Ramsey had more permission to get forward by his French boss.
Ramsey scored twice in an away game at struggling Sunderland, three days later he scored Arsenal's second in a difficult away European tie at Marseille, and scored the opener against Stoke four days later at the Emirates.
His spectacular form was being questioned by pundits throughout the British media and most said that his goal-scoring would have to come to an end soon. Ramsey however didn't just continue his form but improved upon it once again.
The most satisfying goal for him probably this season was the one he scored against Welsh opposition Swansea City. Ramsey, being a Cardiff City academy player, was booed by the home fans but finished the match with a goal, an assist and another Man of the Match award. Due to his unquestionable form and his clinical finishing in front of goal, Ramsey was named Barclays Premier League Player of the Month for September 2013.
October was merely another obstacle for Ramsey to overcome. He scored a brilliant individual goal against Norwich City at the Emirates where he received the ball in the penalty area from Jack Wilshere, he faked a right footed shot, then dribbled down the line and faked a left footed shot, where the defender slid to the floor, and then blasted the ball passed the helpless Norwich City goalkeeper with his right foot.
Ramsey took his club form for Arsenal on to the international stage with Wales. In September he scored a penalty in the 2-1 defeat to Macedonia, and in October he scored a last minute equaliser against Belgium in Brussels. Wales had been missing seemingly an entire squad for the games against Belgium and Macedonia in October. Key players such as Gareth Bale, Joe Allen, Ashley Williams, Ben Davies, and Joe Ledley were all absent for the matches but Ramsey led the hugely inexperienced squad to a win against Macedonia, where he received another Man of the Match award and an away draw against Belgium.
On his return back to club football, Arsenal were facing their toughest test yet when they welcomed Liverpool to the Emirates. Liverpool and Arsenal were seen as the in form teams in the Premier League and were predicted to be a handful for the gunners. However Arsenal displayed their best performance of the season by winning 2-0 and Ramsey scored the second goal of the game with a magnificent 25 yard half-volley.
His European exploits continued also when Arsenal traveled to Borussia Dortmund in need of a positive result. Dortmund hadn't lost a European home tie in two years at their famous Westfalonstadoin and were predicted a win against the Londoners. Ramsey was pushed forward into a more attacking position by Arsene Wenger, leaving Mathieu Flamini to sit for the team in front of the back four. The gamble paid off when Ramsey ran onto a Olivier Giroud header and headed one for himself into the back of the net. The game finished 1-0 and Ramsey's goal was the deciding goal.
The last week of November saw Aaron Ramsey return to his former club, and newly promoted, Cardiff City. Mikel Arteta was back in the team but Ramsey was now the forefront of the Arsenal midfield. Ramsey scored the opening goal in the first half for the gunners with a glancing header from a Mesut Ozil cross. As soon as he landed back on the ground he refused to celebrate the goal and held his hands in the air as a gesture to the Cardiff City fans. As he staggered back to the halfway line, all the Cardiff City fans in the stadium gave him a standing ovation for his appreciation to them. Ramsey finished the game with two goals and the match finished 3-0.
This far the Welshman has scored 13 goals in 22 games for Arsenal and 15 for club and country. Outstanding statistics for a deep lying midfielder and for someone who Arsenal fans wanted out the door not so long ago.
He has been quoted in saying that he only now just getting over his horrific injury and only now regaining the confidence that he once had. Jamie Redknapp has been quoted in saying that Ramsey, if he continue what he's doing, could become a Gerrard or Lampard figure for Arsenal in regards to getting a lot of goals from the midfield.
A lot of critics around the world of football have already dubbed him to win PFA Player of the Year at the end of the season; although there is still a long way to go.
One thing that no one can deny Ramsey of now is that he has established himself as a key figure for Arsenal this season and potentially established himself as a world-class player. His performances against top teams such as Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, Liverpool and Tottenham has brought him instant acclaim by the fans and pundits.
One question is will he continue this kind of form for the duration of the season and contunue his goal scoring? If he does finish the season with over 20 goals then surely he has to be the best midfielder in the Premier League?
Another question is, if Ramsey does get 20-25 goals this season, like Gareth Bale did last season, will Arsenal hold on to him at the end of the season?