Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey is quite the polarizing player. Many fans and pundits will acknowledge that the 26-year-old Wales international is certainly a talented player. The knock, however, is the fact that he has shown to be inconsistent at times during his career. At his best, Ramsey was the club’s most outstanding player during the 2013/14 campaign. His play and knack for scoring immense goals, most notably the match-winning goal in the FA Cup final that season, helped end Arsenal’s nine year trophy drought.
Ramsey’s 2013/14 was what Arsenal fans were hoping to see out of the midfielder ever since he arrived to north London in 2008. His 16 total goals that year ranked second on the team, only behind Olivier Giroud’s 22. Not only was Ramsey lighting up the scoreboard, but he was leading the team. The Gunners spent 21 weeks, a majority of the season, atop the Premier League standings, and Ramsey was a significant reason for the team’s performances.
Following the impressive 2013/14 campaign, Ramsey failed to repeat the same type of output for the next three seasons. In fact, his goal production declined in every season from 2013/14 to 2016/17. The three somewhat down years for Ramsey happened to coincide with the player’s endorsement deal with New Balance. While no one would claim that a player’s performances could somehow be tied to which brand of boots he or she wore, Arsenal fans took to Twitter to rejoice as Ramsey was seen sporting fresh Adidas boots earlier in this season.
Now back with Adidas, and more importantly fit and healthy, Ramsey has arguably been Arsenal’s top player early on in the current campaign. His six league assists currently rank third in England’s top flight, only behind the dynamic duo of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. Outside of the obvious fitness aspect, there are multiple areas in which Ramsey is improving on this season.
Ramsey’s play in the middle of the pitch has been the biggest difference in his upswing so far during the 2017/18 season. With his duels and take ons steadily improving over the last five seasons, Ramsey is both creating space and holding on to the ball better than he has in previous years. This is giving him and his teammates more chances going forward, and helping his defense out at the same time as well.
Another area that appears to be a noticeable change with the midfielder is his distribution. No, Ramsey is not creating more chances nor supplying more key passes, but he is actually passing less than in previous seasons. In fact, his passes per game has decreased in each of the last five campaigns, as well as his average pass length (down to 15 meters from 17 meters).
The shorter, more intricate passes better suit Ramsey’s game, while he has allowed follow midfielder Granit Xhaka supply the longer passes from a deeper position. To go along with the adjustment in passing, the Welshman is making more tremendously timed forward runs towards the box, something that he has always done brilliantly. Arsenal fans will hope this run of form continues for Ramsey, and he can help guide the club to a strong finish in the second half of the season.