Football

Aaron Ramsey finally set to step up?

Ramsey impressed at the back-end of last season (©GettyImages)
Ramsey impressed at the back-end of last season (©GettyImages).

When Aaron Ramsey completed his £4.8m move to Arsenal after knocking back the advances of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, the 17-year-old was set to go on to great things and become a mainstay in the Gunners midfield for years to come.

Ramsey had previously put in some commanding performances in the middle of the park for Cardiff City, displays that defied his age and oozed confidence. This came to light during the Welsh club's run to the FA Cup Final and despite a 1-0 loss to Portsmouth, the Premier League was put on notice. Here was a new star.

After brief cameo appearances following his transfer to the North Londoners, it was the 2009/10 season when the youngster really started to impose himself on the Arsenal first team. 

Having to fight your way into a midfield containing the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri is no easy task in your second season at Arsenal but Ramsey managed to more than hold his own amongst such esteemed company.

Just when it seemed that everything was going right for the Welshman, he encountered that most often repeated of football cliches, a cold night at the Britannia.

Advancing with the ball, Ramsey took a heavy touch, inviting a tackle from Ryan Shawcross. The young defender steamed into the challenge and unfortunately through Ramsey, who immediately called for the bench as it became evident that something horrible had happened.

While Shawcross was sent off in a flood of tears, Ramsey was carried away with a double fracture of his right leg, and a promising career could have been in tatters.

Upon his return almost nine months later, he was loaned out to Nottingham Forest and his former club Cardiff in a bid to regain both confidence and match fitness.

After completing these two spells and coming back to prove himself again at The Emirates, Ramsey looked a completely different player. Gone was the confident swagger and composed passing, he was more reluctant to drive forward with the ball and took to turning back on himself and passing sideways more often than not.

This continued through 2011/12 and the beginning of 2012/13, at which point many within the game began to doubt whether he would ever reach the level touted when he was a young star at Cardiff.

Even some of the Arsenal supporters themselves began using Ramsey as a scapegoat during the club's more desperate results. However, with all credit to Arsene Wenger, he persevered with the Welshman even though it meant he received criticism from all angles.

Now, just over a year later, Arsenal fans are finally starting to see what their manager had the whole time. During pre-season there seemed something different about Ramsey, he was showing flair and driving forward with the ball. The backwards passing was replaced with piercing through-ball attempts and shots on goal.

And against Fenerbahce in Arsenal's Champions League qualifying first-leg Ramsey, still only 22, gave a masterclass performance and capped it off with a sumptuous pass in the build up to Kieran Gibbs' opener before notching a goal himself with a rasping 20-yard drive.

This is the kind of performance that was expected when he first joined the club, and even if it has taken a little longer than expected to materialise, it still bodes extremely well for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal.

Maybe, just maybe, Aaron Ramsey could still become the mainstay he was meant to be.

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Topics:
Arsenal
Premier League
Football
Aaron Ramsey

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