Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey could well have been forgiven for questioning his future at the Emirates Stadium after a difficult season in the Premier League last year.
A number of players came under intense criticism, and unfortunately for the Welshman, he was one of them.
Due to injuries and suspensions for some of the other midfielders, Ramsey played the vast majority of games last season, but struggled for consistency. He often gave the ball away during games and was more of a hindrance than a help.
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Gunners fans also vented their frustration at manager Arsene Wenger, who, despite the Welshman’s poor form, continued to select him.
When he was finally dropped, the central midfield looked a lot more solid and balanced, especially when Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin were utilised together in central midfield. They looked together as a unit, more disciplined and pragmatic in midfield, and as a result, the team was harder to break down.
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Despite this, Ramsey has reason to be more cheerful with the new season around the corner.
His achievements with the Welsh team during the Euro 16 tournament will definitely give him a boost, and the Arsenal faithful will be keen to see how he gets on.
Ramsey was an integral part of Wales’ success during the qualifiers and the tournament itself, where he played a significant part in the team reaching the semi-finals against all the odds.
Unfortunately for Wales, he missed out on the semi-finals due to suspension, and as a result, the team lacked the dynamism in attack that they previously had in the tournament, underlining his talent.
Ramsey will no doubt return to the Arsenal team with newfound confidence after his exploits with his national side, and it might see him return to the excellent form of a few years ago.
He also returns to a much different team with the midfield a lot more crowded than it was last season.
Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere have both returned from long-term injuries and with Swiss international Granit Xhaka also joining the Gunners recently, Ramsey will probably see his opportunities limited in that area.
He may also see his role change slightly and might be utilised more often as an alternative to Mesut Ozil if and when the German is rested or dropped.
This idea was alluded to by Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, who told The Sun: “That is great of him, but as a No. 10 who runs beyond and everywhere, I just thought that he should have got more credit. He was as good as the other guys I saw in that tournament.
“Maybe he didn’t score the six goals that Griezmann scored, but assists, goals, energy, defending, going forward — hopefully that can be good for Arsenal if he can come home and play the same way."
The no.10 position is one that Ramsey may well be more suited too. He proved his worth there during the Euro 2016 tournament and appeared to be more comfortable playing a more advanced role.
With a packed midfield, Wenger has options and depth but also might have a problem keeping them all happy. He can be certain of one thing though, in Ramsey, he has a player with renewed confidence and that can only be a good thing for the Gunners.
What midfield should Arsene Wenger field for Arsenal next season? Leave YOUR suggestions in the comment section below!
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