Aaron Ramsey is the marmite of all Arsenal fans; you love him or hate him. Often maligned for seeking individual success over the benefit of the team, Ramsey has come in for much criticism over the course of the last few years due to him being closer to the opposition goal than defending our own.
His tendency to stroll away from his actual position has often left Arsenal ripe for the counter-attack and left Arsenal fans asking the question ‘Where is Ramsey?’ far too often. But this season, there seems to be more balance to his game, and thus a better end product.
This season, a case can be made for Ramsey being Arsenal’s player of the year. He is playing at a standard that Arsenal fans have been clamouring for but is also playing it a level of consistency that has been sorely missing from his game. Far too often when Ramsey is in his richest vein of form, a muscle injury would strike him down for months leaving him back at square 1 again.
However, this season, the Welshman is playing at a phenomenal level already scoring three goals and providing a further six assists all while featuring in 14 of the 15 Premier League games. Such output is reminiscent of the 2013/14 season in which Ramsey scored 10 goals and managed eight assists in only 23 appearances. But what is the reason for this upturn in form?
First and foremost, the most important thing for Ramsey this year has been his positioning and understanding of his role. Far too often last season much to many Gunners fans' annoyance, Ramsey thought he was playing central striker rather than centre midfield. Too often he would find himself closer to the striker rather than his centre midfield partner which negates one of his best aspects, his third man runs.
It’s no coincidence that Ramsey is finding pockets of space in the opposition final third and this is because he is coming into the space rather than already standing in it, so his runs into the box are much harder to track. For instance, in the loss to Man United, Ramsey ran into the space to knock the ball back for the Lacazette goal, but last season, you would easily find him already in the box trying to find the goal.
Another key change to Arsenal that has helped Ramsey tremendously is the change in formation. In scenarios where Arsenal were caught out on the counter-attack, they would play a 4-2-3-1 in which the full-backs would bomb forward along with Ramsey leaving only the centre-backs and holding midfielder in the defensive half.
However, with the change in formation to 3-4-2-1, the added centre-back option along with one of the wing backs playing deeper than the other gives Ramsey more of a licence to move forward without the threat of the counter-attack. With the two wide players now playing inside-forward and wing-backs providing the width, Ramsey has the centre midfield to himself and can make the runs he is very good at.
The last reason this upturn in form has happened is consistency. Ramsey only managed 23 appearances in the league last term and is already up to 14 this year. In times that Ramsey was entering a purple patch of form he would get injured and would try and force things when he got back in the team.
This season he isn’t getting injured as much is helped by the fact that he is only playing once a week, he is able to give 100% for every league game because he is freed from the responsibility of playing in the Europa League. His overall midfield play overall has increased dramatically with Ramsey having a 77% tackle success accompanied with 14 interceptions and 77 recoveries in the league alone.
Ramsey has already bettered his tally for goals and assists from last season in which he registered just one and four respectively. If the Welshman carries on in this rich vein of form through the entirety of the season, there is no doubt the Welshman will be one of the main catalysts for any success the Gunners have.