It’s always been about Aaron – I have the feeling that the Wenger team of 2015’s potential is wrapped up in one man. Does that scare you – It does me!!
Bit dramatic you say Clive – well let me get you thinking!!
For me the most important player in the Wenger era was Vieira. It was no coincidence he was his first major buy and so important to him he bought Vieira before he actually arrived at AFC. He was the central cog to a new machine that lay down a new blueprint of what a centre midfielder could be.
No one could touch Vieira, not Keane not Scholes – together they made up what Vieira had in one body. Wenger had his go to man.
Vieira panicked Fergie so much he went and bought Djemba Djemba – a player so bad they named him twice! Fergie realised he had to find a way to match Arsenal physically as for football he had no chance. To my annoyance the English Referees allowed Fergie’s team to kick Wenger’s Jonny Foreigners off the pitch – but hey this is not a history lesson!
Vieira was the one the game flowed through. He is a connector of the thirds, a manager on the pitch. He knew when to step out and engage/confront and when to sit back and dig in. When I used to watch him it was easy to appreciate his presence, skill and defensive determination. It was hard to miss to be honest. The rest of the league knew it – he ran Arsenal hence he was targeted many times and sometimes very successfully (Neil Ruddock comes to mind)
Anyway this is not a history lesson but what I am trying to articulate is Wenger has always had the player centrally that does 2 jobs and that player he over burdens with responsibility.
When Vieira left that mantle went to a very young Cesc – A Completely different leader. He was a technical leader.
A player that defined the evolution our technical style of play – a player that was almost created by Wenger to be the standard bearer of project youth and what I called ‘budget Arsenal’
This was the team of young speculative diamonds polished with the aim of allowing us to finish in the high revenue positions to pay for our stadium while we awaited poorly negotiated commercial deals to reach their period for re-negotiation.
But as I say this is not a history lesson!
However there is a pattern forming…
Arsenal stumbled on year on year making the same mentally weak errors – having bad luck with injury at crucial moments, just when we looked to compete – we faded.
That was until last season when Ramsey became ‘That Player’
He was the player who was our go to man. He seemed to focussed even before the season started. He put himself through extra fitness sessions and hit pre-season in top form and it just continued.
Against Liverpool in the 2-0 home victory last season, not only did he score a wonderful goal but his midfield display vs Gerrard was superlative. It was so good many Liverpool fans said then Gerrard was finished. He simply ran all over him physically, he had more energy, strength and on the ball, technique then to cap it all a goal that was immaculate. What a memory.
He then gets injured and our form from Xmas stuttered but as soon as Aaron retuned so did our form – all the way to his winning goal in the FA Cup final. Injury for Aaron – What could he be without injury? The day his leg was broken was a sad day. He was a dashing fearless uncomplicated midfielder but hey….
…..this is not a history lesson – but what has happened since?
I can only speculate but here goes:
I felt this summer post his marriage he was not doing the extra work pre-season as he did previously. His star was high and understandably he was getting attention from the media, magazines and commercial deals etc. All the trappings of his success that he deserved.
He started the season not as quick or as fit as he was previously and maybe over weight in my opinion. His running looked laboured and his simple game born from a physical confidence turned in to a more risk laden complex game muddied by his goal scoring prowess. His personal game success criteria changed from control and domination to goals.
He needed to realise his goals came from that fact he was fit, strong and from the control he exerted over his direct opponents as part of the collective team shape. He was not a one man band running into the box with no care for his midfield partners.
Like Vieira, Ramsey does 2 jobs. He can recycle it anywhere on the pitch and pass or dribble, play away from trouble defend and attack – The all-round multi-functional scoring midfielder. (Not a DM and not and enforcer but both as @goonerdave66 highlighted on 1ND2OU.)
But the perception he has of himself has changed and the player we want him to be no longer is the player Aaron thinks he is.
Hence IMO he is struggling for clarity of his game. Some including me are hoping he can adapt his game as Arsenal’s game changes around him. But up to now this has not happened. Even vs City recently and Villa his personal game had flaws in relation to the efficient use of the ball. But as I have alluded to for this Arsenal to reach its heights Aaron is the best option. He has the game and stature required.
Injury – The blight on his career.
All injuries are unwelcome but Aaron has this knack of having exceptionally untimely injuries. Wenger has tried to manage him but he breaks down. Is this his fault, is this Arsenal’s fault? I’m not sure. Against Leicester Aaron breaks down again. Untimely as it is just when we have Europe and just when we have the chance to push on in the crucial prize winning months of the season.
Arsenal teams need that player – that central reference point that we can identify the team by. Aaron should be that player.
Can it be Ozil who is a deferent character who is team focussed to a fault?
Can it be Jack or does he lack the stature and tactical maturity?
Can it be Coquelin? But we need him where he is to be the DM platform,
Can it be Tom? At 34yrs old surely he can’t play to the required levels 3 times a week.
Can it be Arteta? Well not unless he discovers the fountain of youth health and happiness.
Can it be Flamini? Well not for me
Can it be the Ox? It could be and may need to be. He has the power he has the ability to transition via a dribble. Can he be the player on whom you play through? I think he can be that player but is it now the time to over burden him with the responsibility
It’s always been about Aaron – It’s why Wenger did not buy back Cesc.
But Aaron for some reason this season is not present and we need him.
I am concerned it will cost us dearly.
For me the Ramsey alternative – the player that defines us centrally is the player we need most this summer.
If you enjoyed this you will also want to read the earlier blog today from Clockend Italia