He may not have realised it at the time, but when Aaron Ramsey calmly stroked in the winner against Manchester United in May, the Welshman was auditioning for a staring role in Arsenal's midfield.

Despite constant summers full of speculation, few could have predicted the exodus from the Emirates Stadium this summer. Gael Clichy, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri all departed for pastures new, with Arsene Wenger left to pick up the pieces.

Many criticised the French boss for not bringing in expensive, unproven new recruits, quickly forgetting the talent that lay within.

If his goal against United served as just a reminder that Ramsey was willing for Arsenal, then his stoppage time winner at the Stade Velodrome on Wednesday evening should be the clearest message yet to Wenger that the 20-year-old is ready to take centre-stage.

Wenger's insistence on his frantic purchasing of reinforcements for the departed Nasri and Fabregas is likely to be born out of the fears over Ramsey's ability to not only fully recover from his leg-break against Stoke City in February 2010, but sufficiently enough to compete at the highest level.

Serious injuries to the likes of Alan Smith, Dean Ashton and Matt Jansen is enough proof that players, however young, aren't necessarily assured of a seamless return to their former self.

His form upon a return to Cardiff City on loan following his recovery confirmed that Ramsey still possessed all the visionary traits he had before his serious injury, his comeback confirmed with a decisive blow against the Barclays Premier League champions.

 

Up until the win over Sunderland this term, which Ramsey missed due to a hamstring problem, the 20-year-old was an ever present for the Gunners in the league this season.

In the absence of Jack Wilshere, Ramsey has been handed the responsibility of controlling the midfield, with occasional license to dictate in the final third, rather than sit and compensate for the rampaging Nasri or Fabregas.

Against United last season, Ramsey ran his opposite number Michael Carrick ragged in the middle, and rather than the onus of containing being heaped on his shoulders, he was allowed to put the England international on the back-foot.

Wenger need only look to Ramsey's performances for his country to realise how his side could excel if he's given responsibility to lead in the middle of the park.

Furthermore, his attributes going forward, particularly his goals against Montenegro and Tottenham Hotspur, which saw him ghost in to score, may also interest Wenger and shows evidence of a side of Ramsey we've yet to see in his restricted midfield role.

From the bench on Wednesday evening Ramsey again showed his ability to turn up at the right place at the right time, firing home following Johan Djourou's overhit cross.

Given his full return from injury, and the departure of captain Fabregas, Ramsey finds himself at the right place at the right time again. To help save himself further heartache this season, and some cash, let's hope Wenger takes note.

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