For Arsenal fans, the last month turned out to be a study in reality check as the club showed signs of nervousness and faltered in all competitions. With a clutch of tough fixtures ahead of them, the club had good news to share – that of Aaron Ramsey agreeing to sign a new five year contract which will earn him the second highest paycheque in the squad only after Mesut Ozil.
Arsenal received another shot in the arm with the Wales international joining full training which brightens his chances of featuring in the do-or-die return fixture in Munich in a couple of weeks’ time. He’s still some way from match fitness though, and will probably get a good chance to take in the races at Cheltenham 2014 before next weekend.
Ramsey has been the playmaker supreme of the Arsenal squad till he got injured, delivering 15 goals and numerous assists in all competitive fixtures. Such has been the influence of the 23-year-old that he was voted to Arsenal’s Player of the Month for four consecutive months between August to November 2013.
His formidable midfield pairing with Mikel Arteta first and then Mathieu Flamini provided a solid core to the Gunners’ heart of midfield, and his driving runs and shooting prowess (40 shots on target, 26 key passes) have made him the all-action midfielder that few thought he would turn into.
Ramsey’s meteoric rise in the present season is also a testament to Arsene Wenger’s keen eye for talent. After the horrific events of 27th February 2010 where a Ryan Shawcross tackle left Ramsey with a fractured tibia and fibula, many would have thought his playing career at the highest level was gone for good. But the graduated rejuvenation of Ramsey by Wenger wherein he had loan spells with Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City and had persistent on-field time with Arsenal despite some indifferent performances has made him a truly matured and top midfielder this season.
In Ramsey’s absence, Arsenal have failed to find a plan B when their passing football comes unstuck. The refreshingly direct approach of the Welshman and his superb link up play with other creative players like Ozil and Cazorla was the major factor that had kept Arsenal at the top of the table for so long. Now that Ramsey is fit and fresh for the home stretch of the English season, it’s only befitting that the Arsenal fans’ optimism reach a new high for League glory.