There is unquestionably something not quite right with Arsenal at the moment, and there are a number of theories about the cause. Part of the problem is seemingly Arsene Wenger’s insistence on playing a central midfielder on the wing, but is there more to it than that?
The manager has a number of selection headaches to contend with, with several truly talented midfielders vying for game time and only a limited number of spots available. He seems incapable of dropping Aaron Ramsey when the Welshman is fit though, which has often proved detrimental to the team.
It’s obviously difficult to leave a player of Ramsey’s quality out of the side, but if he’s not the best man for the job then it’s senseless crowbarring him into the team. Santi Cazorla has formed an excellent midfield partnership with Francis Coquelin, proving that he deserves to start in that central role. Ramsey has no divine right to start, but Wenger seems scared to leave him out.
The 24-year-old would obviously prefer to be starting centrally rather than out wide, but he’s given plenty of licence to roam and drift inside – as long as he does his defensive duties. But as unsatisfied as he may be on the flanks, imagine how he’d feel if he wasn’t starting at all.
You’d think that Ramsey was probably yet to reach his peak, and is still capable of improving drastically. Despite that, he has shown at times over the last few seasons that he has the ability to be one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the world. His outstanding performances have seen him linked with some of the biggest clubs in football, and he has admitted that he would like to play for Barcelona or Real Madrid someday (via The Telegraph).
With losing our best and brightest a feature of life at the Emirates during our financially difficult period, Wenger is obviously keen not to see that trend continue now that we’re out of the mire. He may well therefore be looking to keep Ramsey happy, to avoid the dynamic midfielder having his head turned by other European giants.
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Wenger seems so concerned with keeping Ramsey content that he is ignoring the impact it may have on the team. He insists on forcing Ramsey into the side even when there are more suitable candidates, and his inclusion on the wing has made us stale and predictable. The fact that he refuses to play a proper wide player – like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo Walcott – on the right is a huge problem, and Wenger needs to learn that no one player is bigger than Arsenal.
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If we were to sell Ramsey we would presumably get a hefty fee, so while losing him wouldn’t be ideal, we would at least receive the funds to replace him. Wenger needs to stop being so stubborn – and arguably, loyal – and drop players who need to be dropped. If Ramsey steps up and proves he deserves a starting spot then so be it, but if he doesn’t and remains unhappy at being a rotation option, then he deserves to be sold.
I am a fan of Ramsey’s, and I’d love to see him continue to develop at Arsenal and eventually become a mainstay in central midfield. At the moment he shouldn’t be one of the first names on the teamsheet though, and Wenger needs to realise that.