Arsenal will be able to maintain a Premier League title tilt if Aaron Ramsey can continue to live up to his reputation as a £40 million player, according to the division’s record goalscorer Alan Shearer.
Ramsey the hero
Arsenal started the new campaign with a narrow victory against Crystal Palace with Ramsey the hero once again; scoring the winner in the final minutes after the home side had initially fallen behind to their managerless opposition.
It was a win that ensured the optimism that has characterised the club this summer was not damaged after a single game, although much is of course hanging on the imminent Champions League tie with Besiktas.
But they have at least begun on the right foot domestically and, as Shearer explains, their long-term prospects are likely to revolve around the fitness of Ramsey, whose three month absence last season put paid to Arsenal’s hopes.
"Ramsey is a £40m player now,” Shearer told BBC Sport. “He was a guy they missed more than anything last season.
“If they keep him and the vast majority fit they will have a right good go at the title.”
Ramsey has scored in each of Arsenal’s competitive fixtures this season, his first strike coming in the Community Shield triumph over Manchester City, which takes his tally to 18 goals in 37 club appearances since the start of last term.
The Wales international started the previous campaign like an absolute train, scoring 15 times for club and country before the end of November, but Arsenal’s season hit the buffers somewhat once his goals dried up and injury hit.
But the Gunners should, in theory at least, avoid these long-term muscle problems, such as the one Ramsey sustained, following the appointment of esteemed fitness coach Shad Forsythe to Arsene Wenger’s backroom team.
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Injury concerns over?
Forsythe spent almost a decade with the Germany national team, leaving on the ultimate high with a World Cup win, and arrives in north London with a reputation for being among the best in the business in his position.
This is not to suggest Arsenal have previously had a fitness department run by amateurs, of course, but the amount of niggles that have turned into serious injuries in recent years can’t simply be a coincidence.
Wenger will be optimistic, then, that this fresh set of eyes will prevent the seriousness of the problems that have become all too familiar at London Colney.