Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has refused to blame the club’s faded title challenge solely on the absence of Ramsey but said any team would have been hurt with the problems his side faced.
Manager Arsene Wenger says Arsenal’s title chances were halted by injuries earlier in the season, after their return to form continued with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Newcastle.
The Gunners went ahead when Laurent Koscielny prodded home Santi Cazorla’s free-kick, before Mesut Ozil tapped in to double their lead. Olivier Giroud headed in the third and sealed a comfortable three points for the home side.
The Welsh midfielder was in sensational form in the opening stages of the season before a thigh injury saw him sidelined for three months.
During that time, Arsenal slipped out of title contention, but Wenger insists there was more to their slump than the loss of Ramsey, who played in the north London club’s 3-0 victory over Newcastle on Monday.
“I would not like to take anything away from Aaron Ramsey but we lost a number of other players in the same period and altogether I think that would harm the chances of many teams,” Wenger told reporters.
“We would love for the season to be longer. We were top of the league but lost too many players at the crucial point of the season.”
Ramsey was asked last week if he ever thought “what might have been” had he not got injured on Boxing Day and the honest answer was a resounding “yes”. Given that Arsenal are still only seven points off the top of the Premier League, the only reasonable answer is that they would have been challenging for a third ‘double’ of Wenger’s tenure.
Three league wins on the spin have put Arsenal back in the driving seat to claim the fourth Champions League spot, with Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud all finding the net during their win over the Magpies, and Wenger believes his men are now capable of taking six points from their final two games of the season.
“We had some problems at the start of the game, trying to find our way through the defence,” he added. “When we found an opening we became stronger.
“We are four points ahead of Everton and we want to take maximum points from now until the end of the season.”
The good news for Gunners fans is that Ramsey can still play such a major part in ensuring that Arsenal do bookend the season in the style they started. This victory against Newcastle means that they must beat only West Bromwich Albion or Norwich City to be sure of an 18th successive top-four finish under Wenger. Then there is the FA Cup final on May 17 and the chance to finally end a nine-year wait for silverware.