In a battle between second and third positions, Arsenal FC host Manchester City FC in the Premier League on Monday. It promises to be an intriguing encounter, and a lot remains to be debated and analysed before the big showdown at the Emirates.
A game of football is won in midfield, they say. After Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla suffered long-term injuries in the space of a week last month, Aaron Ramsey has embraced the Arsenal midfield responsibility with open arms, and the Welshman has taken over the mantle quite outstandingly. But is he good enough to own the midfield which will boast the likes of Yaya Toure and David Silva? Premier League legends Jamie Carragher and Frank Lampard share similar opinions on the matter.
Carragher : Ramsey is the next Gerrard
Although Ramsey has been sensational for the Gunners in the opposition’s half, Carragher insists Ramsey should contribute defensively, else Arsenal could find themselves in a perilous position.
“I don’t think he thinks defensively enough and I think this is why Arsene Wenger at times is worried about playing him there,” Carragher told skysports. “It’s not the end of the world playing him in a midfield two against Aston Villa, but if you can imagine it was Yaya Toure running at that Arsenal defence, that’s a problem. That’s why I think in big games a lot of managers like those two disciplined players.”
“I see Ramsey as the next Frank Lampard, the next Steven Gerrard,” he added. “This is not a criticism, it’s just about the system that they are playing.”
Lampard : Ramsey needs to take a different role
Frank Lampard had to change his role at Chelsea when the players around him changed, and the Englishman believes that is exactly what Ramsey needs to do.
“When the game changed around me at Chelsea and we bought Hazard, Oscar and Willian, I understood that I had to take a different role.
“I think Aaron Ramsey now, in his own way, has to see that Ozil is at No 10 and take on a different role. It starts with those small moments of discipline, of positional play and running back a little bit quicker.”
“So now he has to change his game a bit. He has to face Man City and think about the defensive side. I love him as a player, he’s very good on the ball, he’s very bright. At the moment he has not quite got the discipline to play in a two, but he certainly has the capabilities.”
Will Ramsey come up trumps in the midfield battle?
Aaron Ramsey has been given the central role in the absence of Cazorla, and it is fair to say that Ramsey has been brilliant in the past few weeks. All-action performances against Sunderland and Olympiakos and a goalscoring display against Aston Villa has not just gained him plenty of plaudits, but also put pressure on the 24-year-old to come to the fore against Man City.
If there’s one player who has momentum going for him at the moment, it’s Aaron Ramsey. But against Man City — as Carragher and Lampard point out — his defensive ability will be tested more than his playmaking skills. With Ozil not at his quickest, the onus is on Ramsey to intercept David Silva’s passes and stop the rampant Yaya Toure in his tracks.