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Needs to make the step up

Hello and good afternoon to you all. The pre season friendlies can’t come soon enough as it gives us something new to talk about. As it stands, the Robin van Persie issue is still unresolved and to prove just how out of the blue the statement was, Aaron Ramsey wasn’t pretending he knew too much about it. Not that I was expecting RvP’s camp to inform everyone about what he wanted to do either.

In which case, I’d rather discuss about Ramsey than speculate any further on RvP. Ramsey had an average season in 2011/12 where he was celebrated and criticised in equal measure. Most of those in the former camp falls back on the fact that it was Ramsey’s first full season since the double leg break, of which I can agree with. While in the latter camp, he was wasteful with his passes and made poor decisions, of which I can also agree with.

It’s fair to say that prior to his injury, Ramsey was on the way up. Brave with his decisions and producing on the pitch. Since his return, things hasn’t been exactly been back to that level yet. Yet if you look at “mistakes” that he makes, it is because he tries the hard things, the passes or shots. He doesn’t hide from it, neither does his shy away from the ball just because there were mistakes before. Something which Andrey Arshavin also does, try the hard passes but the similarities ends there. When it doesn’t come off, Arshavin retreats to his shell but the Welshman doesn’t.

Sometimes I think we’re too quick to write off players. I’m sure there are Arsenal supporters who were willing for the rumour about Ramsey going off to Fulham (transfer or loan) to be true. He’s only turning 22 this year and to compare that with the greats that we have in the past; Thierry Henry joined us at 22 years of age after floundering in Juventus, Dennis Bergkamp joined us at 26 years of age after floundering at Inter Milan, Robert Pires was only 27 years young when he joined us. All these players went on to win the highest individual honours in England for a professional footballer. I’m sure you can understand where I’m coming from without accusing me of assuming that Ramsey is going to be as great as them. I’m just saying there’s time on the side of Ramsey.

Just like how it did for Nicklas Bendtner in the European Championship, I’m hopeful that the Olympics will give him the boost that will put him in good stead going into the new season. If you take a look at the midfield selection that Stuart Pearce has chosen, it would seem that Ramsey has every chance to be a starter. Ryan Giggs as the captain will surely take up one of the spots. If Pearce goes with a 3 man midfield, a tactic commonly used these days, Joe Allen and Tom Cleverley will fight with Ramsey for the remaining 2 spots. I’m expecting the Manchester United youngster to lose out in that battle.

It should set up to be a more fluid midfield with not a single fixed designated defensive midfielder (DM). A role which all 3 of Giggs, Ramsey and Allen will interchange to provide support for the defence. I think that is good for Ramsey to play in that system as it is not too different from what we have at Arsenal. Although, Alex Song does perform the slightly withdrawn role (whenever he sees fit not to advance forward). If Ramsey picks up the positional sense when sharing duties with a fellow midfielder, it would be good for us in the long run. As we have one such player in Jack Wilshere already, having 2 players like that could enable to dispense with the use of a predominant DM in our future line-up.

One thing which Ramsey does have to improve, either during the course of this Olympics or over the new season, is the quickness of his decision making. Quite a few times last season, a pass that was on but somehow he chose to delay that by taking another touch or pulling the back back. It really comes down to either he doesn’t trust his own ability to make the pass or he doesn’t trust a team mate in that position. Either way, Ramsey remains a work in progress and no where near the finished article yet.

We cannot forget the instances of youngsters who we have persevered with in the past which has not repaid the faith we have in them. It does happen that even managers as good as Wenger makes the wrong decision and judgement over the quality of a player. At the moment, the jury is still out on Ramsey. Let’s not pass the judgement just yet.