At this point last season, Aaron Ramsey was by far and away Arsenal's top goal scorer, netting seven goals across all competitions. Fast forward 12 months and the Welsh wonder is struggling to hit his brilliant best.
With Mesut Ozil flourishing in the No.10 role against Aston Villa last week and Jack Wilshere finally emerging from the wilderness, another substandard performances from Ramsey could see him pushed onto the bench. Luckily, the stage is set for him to perform this Saturday when Tottenham Hotspur take the short trip down Seven Sisters to the Emirates.
Ramsey had been earmarked by Arsenal fans as a decent squad player before the 2012/13 season. Having struggled to come back from that infamous broken leg, it seemed Ramsey would fall short of what seemed unlimited potential.
But finally he emerged as an influential star, using his incredible stamina to bag goal after goal for the Gunners. By December, he had already scored 10 and looked like he could quite easily outscore the likes of Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud.
Then the injury problems started. A niggling thigh problem turned into a full blown strain before eventually becoming a tear. Call it bad luck or call it mismanagement from Arsene Wenger, but the 23-year-old was forced to spend three months on the bench.
When he left, Arsenal were title contenders; when he returned, they were not. Fans will always wonder what might have been had he been available for 38 Premier League games, rather than the 20 he started.
Having signed a new long-term contract worth £100,000-a-week Ramsey's future at Arsenal seemed in no doubt. He looked set to be one of their key players as Wenger introduced a new era of success.
His winning goal in the FA Cup final only drove that ideal further into the minds of Arsenal fans. Finally, Arsenal had a talisman in midfield.
Concerns remained around Ramsey's all-round fitness. The complications that come with spending over a year on the sidelines with a broken leg go further than anyone could imagine; just ask Abou Diaby.
As such, Wenger has been forced to use Ramsey spariling. The manager risked him at a crucial time in the season last term and got his fingers burned. He's unlikely to make the same mistake.
The Welshman managed a full preseason and has so far started in every game this season bar Besiktas, which he was suspended for. He is obviously fully fit but has so far failed to have a real impact on Arsenal's season; at least not to the same effect he had done at this point last term.
Ramsey has scored just the two goals compared to the seven at this point last year and struggled to get into the game at all against Borussia Dortmund, eventually being substituted at the hour mark.
It is too early to read into his statistics, but it is clear that Ramsey is not hitting his finest form for the Gunners. Meanwhile, other players are starting to emerge from the shadows.
Ramsey's fine form was bad news for Jack Wilshere. While Ramsey's reputation grew last season, Wilshere's seemed to regress. The England international was a seemed to struggle in the big games and was eventually pushed out onto the right wing to accommodate Ramsey.
Wilshere had plenty of critics and still does. Some lament him for his party boy lifestyle while others seem to think his massive talent will never be reached. But after enjoying a full preseason and new role for the Gunners, Wilshere is finally getting back to his best.
Most notably, the 22-year-old inspired against Manchester City, scoring a goal and, at times, dominating the centre of the pitch. Had it been for better defending, Wilshere's man of the match display would have earned Arsenal three points.
Both Wilshere and Ramsey want to play in the same position. They want to be the player behind Ozil, attempting to catch defenders out with late runs and create changes with driving through balls and accurate long passes.
They don't want to defend, but modern football does not allow for three attacking central midfielders. As Mesut Ozil proved against Aston Villa, he is virtually undroppable.
He, too, has had his critics of late, but Ozil's potential to create something out of nothing makes his presence on the pitch essential. Wenger tried his best to fit him out on the left, but it didn't work. To keep Ozil motivated and playing his best, it has to be the No.10 role.
That leaves two more places in midfield, which could be filled by Mathieu Flamini, Mikel Arteta, Wilshere or Ramsey. However, playing Ramsey and Wilshere together has been tried in the past and has not worked.
Both players lack to discipline to hold back, leaving Arsenal more than exposed on the counter attack. So Flamini and Arteta, although not the best players at Arsenal, must play. They are the only deep lying midfielders in the squad.
To place either Wilshere or Ramsey in that position would be to clip the wings of an eagle. They are offensive players and, as experienced by England against Norway, Wilshere is suffocated playing in his own half. Ramsey would likely be the same.
So as Wilshere was forced to play out on the right last season to accommodate Ramsey, Ramsey may soon have to make way for the inform Wilshere. Only an upturn in form can guarantee a starting spot in one of the strongest midfields Wenger has ever had at his disposal.
The north London derby is the best possible stage for him to get back to his best. A dominating performance against Spurs, who themselves are struggling, can remind everyone that he is still a top class player and is ready to push his game and Arsenal's position in the table upwards.
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