Ramsey should start for Arsenal against Palace. On the bench.

Does Ramsey fit in to the current starting lineup?

Does Ramsey fit in to the current starting lineup?

Where does Aaron Ramsey fit in with this current Arsenal side?

It is sort of heart-breaking in a way to find myself clutching at straws over a player whom we do all adore (everyone except Piers Morgan, perhaps), but unfortunately it is a situation we indeed find ourselves in.

Our vast array of crafty midfield technicians has left us with a slight predicament, one that has for me damaged the reputation of our Welsh Wizard, Aaron Ramsey: there simply is not enough room to accommodate him. In a dream world, yes – all our technicians would operate effortlessly together and slice through every opponent who dares stand in their way, but, sadly, this is not the case.

The correct balance needs to be achieved in order for us to finally bring back the halcyon days of Premier League titles and so forth, and although we seemed close to achieving it last season, something was still missing. Rambo for me is the component in our system whom I believe needs either altering or replacing.

So just where does Rambo fit in with the current set up? Should he feature at all in the starting line up? These are questions I’d like to examine. (And, dare I say, Arsene Wenger should address.)

Coquelin needs a certain player beside him that Ramsey isn't.

Coquelin needs a certain player beside him that Ramsey isn’t.

Does Ramsey work in a midfield pairing with ‘Le Coq’?

It seemed downright preposterous that Wenger abandoned the dynamic and disciplined duo of Cazorla and Coquelin against West Ham, instead letting Rambo operate alongside ‘Le Coq’. Being blunt – it simply isn’t a partnership which will work, in fact it often hinders Arsenal’s defensive shape – meaning that they cannot control possession as they wish to. Coquelin obviously needs a distributor next to him, someone with the mesmeric passing range of Cazorla, who will dictate the tempo of the game and allow Coquelin to get on with the dirty work he does so well.

Rambo sadly is not this; he is player eager to get forward and burst into the box – leaving Coquelin more frequently exposed. It came as no surprise to me that our French enforcer had possibly his worst game during this renaissance period because of the simple fact that he and Rambo do not operate effectively together.

Against Sp*rs last season the duo were once again paired together, and just like the West Ham game we saw a midfield which was easily turned over and failed to control the tempo of the game – thus allowing Tottenham the freedom to attack and exert pressure on our defence.

The Ramsey/Coquelin axis cannot work, and in my eyes Coquelin at this current moment in time is more valuable to the team than Ramsey – so we need to play to his strengths and the man who does that perfectly is Santi Cazorla.

So, out on the wing?

It seemed for a while that Rambo had found a new home on the right-hand side of our midfield: his high energy and offensive capabilities were as impressive as always, but at times it did seem if it was a square peg in a round hole situation (excuse the cliché). Rambo is not a player who possesses natural width -he has spent his whole career being centrally focused – so of course he will drift inside where his body naturally takes him. This simply just makes our midfield narrower and therefore our attacks stagnate and we get frustrated as a team. Unfortunately, our usual response to this frustration is to concede a goal.

Rambo’s best performance in his wide role was the 4-1 demolition of Liverpool last season, where Brendan Rodgers’s side operated with a back three. This meant that Liverpool played very narrow meaning that Arsenal did not require the natural width to stretch the defence like they do when up against a back four.

It was an admirable solution Wenger created when our natural wingers such as Oxlade-Chamberlain were out through injury but I don’t think it’s a solution which provides continuity. The Ox has proven since his return from injury that he is much more deserving of a place on the wing; it is after all his natural position and one in which he thrives. Rambo’s a great option to have in this respect, but should not be the number one candidate when everyone is available.

These two guys have squeezed you out...

These two guys have squeezed you out…

As a Number 10?

This is a position he occupies internationally and it is his link up with Real Madrid star Gareth Bale in this role which has seen Wales fly up the FIFA rankings to 8th – they may even make it to Euro 2016.

Nevertheless, in my eyes it is simply not feasible at this current time for Rambo to operate in this role because of the presence of a certain Mesut Ozil. Yes I am aware that Wenger does like to occasionally fling our mesmeric German into wide areas (much to the bemusement of the footballing world) but when Özil is in that number 10 role there are few in the world that match his talents.

Sadly this means that chances in this area will be few and far between for Rambo, and while I think that his natural attacking prowess, high energy and general skill make him ideally suited to the number 10 position he will have to adapt his game to fit in with other positions within the team.

(That being said – in my opinion, Ramsey is the perfect back up to Ozil in this position, and – with an inevitable injury crisis probably round the corner – this is an option Wenger should consider.)

Rambo thrives in the  number 10 role for Wales - feeding Bale

Rambo thrives in the number 10 role for Wales – feeding Bale

Should Ramsey start against Crystal Palace?

In my personal opinion, simply, no. Crystal Palace,with their pacey wingers, will take even greater advantage of our narrow midfield set up than West Ham did, so I feel it is essential we give our team the necessary width. Sanchez and the Ox are the ideal candidates for this task, while moving Santi back next to Coquelin will allow us to hopefully dictate the game better from midfield,. This means Ozil moving back centrally – which is where he belongs.

So – sorry, Rambo, but for the moment you may have to take one for the team.

You’ll be back at some point, I’m sure.


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13 Responses to Ramsey should start for Arsenal against Palace. On the bench.

  1. Anonymous August 13, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

    I agree with you on this.

  2. DEW August 13, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

    It is a very fair assessment of Rambo. Rambo’s best position is no. 10. Then he has to compete with Ozil for that place. I think he is a very important player in that regard. Rambo’s other problem in deep midfield is that if he gets the ball with a lot of space, he tends to be leggy and the whole tempo and movement of the game will be lost.

    • Danny Ryan August 13, 2015 at 8:04 pm #

      I think it’s a real shame that seem unable to integrate both ozil and Rambo into the same team, but do think Rambo should focus further forward, don’t think his style of play suits the deeper role anymore

  3. Frank August 13, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

    Spot on! Rambo should simply play backup to Ozil. He really slowed the game against west Ham wanting to take on 3 players when he doesn’t have the skill to do so thereby loosing possession.
    Wenger also said the players were nervous against West Ham which is an indictment on the mentality and title ambitions of Wenger and the players. How can you be nervous when:

    1, You are playing at home

    2, We have not lost to West Ham for God knows how many games.

    3, We have the better players in terms of quality.

    Wenger bottled the game by refusing to start the game with the pacy players we have……more like underestimating West Ham and we paid the price.

    • Danny Ryan August 13, 2015 at 8:06 pm #

      Pace is so crucial to our side and we sacrificed that in essence against West Ham. The whole attitude was wrong from Arsenal and Rambo in particular looked unsure of his role and subsequently put in a substandard performance, shame really but for the moment he has to be dropped.

  4. jim August 13, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

    nope i honestly think ozil shud be benched and not rambo…. i like ozil but cmon people rambo is a better overall player in my opinion……just compare ozil and rambo…..speed is pretty much equal ,maybe rambo is quicker, goals – rambo scored more than ozil in both previous seasons( some might counter by saying ozil was injured for parts of last season and ocassionaly he was played wide, but rambo was also injured and he too was also played wide on ocassions ) , next their height and size are pretty much the same but cmon everyone knows rambo has more aggression than ozil, next energy – rambos got bags of energy and surely supperior to ozil, now comes assists – ozil might be known as king of assists but rambo got more assists and goals than ozil last season…but still i admit ozil has a great eye for a pass and is one f the best in the world to pick out a pass, and i admit ozil might have an edge over rambo in the passing department but that still doesnt mean rambo cant pick a pass …he took can link up play pretty well, next defense – again rambo helps out more defensively than ozil and still he gets in to the opposition box a lot too…………..so i personally think rambo ,cazorla and coquelin shoud be our 3 midfielders !!!………..but if ozil starts showing more aggression and fight in his play then i might have a different opinion!!!

    • Danny Ryan August 13, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

      It’s a good opinion, I just feel that ozil is arguably the finest number 10 in world football and if we build a midfield to suit his needs then as a team I believe we would thrive.

  5. Headache August 13, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

    Danny, really good stuff.

    I think we’re in the weird (unprecedented?) position of having a better set of midfielders / wide attackers than anyone in the league, but real difficulties in selecting from those options the best midfield for us, either as part of a best 11 or for specific opposition. Ramsey is, pardon the pun, central to that.

    If you were to assign values to each player, who has a better, or more valuable set of options? Conservatively, it’s Sanchez (50), Santi (15), Coq (12.5- double that for me, but I’m keeping it conservative here), Ozil (40), Ox (30- conservative again), Walcott (20-30), Wellbeck (15), Wilshere (35) and Ramsey (phhh, genuinely see him as 50, but lets say 40)

    So that’s…(calculator time) 257 million of talent, or ,if you take Sanchez, Wilshere and Wellbeck out of equation on Sunday, 157.5 million of talent to choose from.

    Yet I have a hell of job thinking what the right team is if everyone is fit, had a hell of a job trying to think what the right team was for Sunday, and the team which was chosen didn’t function well. Yikes.

    For me, it’s a strange old situation. The explanation for it, for me, is that the team has been built in a different way to any other team in the world who has anything like that valuable a set of players : all the other teams who have built something remotely similar have been operating from the dominant positions within their own leagues and within football overall. They’ve been in the very top group financially, basically, and we weren’t. We now are, arguably, though there remain quite significant differences between us and some other teams in this group.

    We ‘collected’ most of those players when we were not in that group, and then in the last two years have been able to depart from our previous ways in order to make two huge signings.

    I would argue that if you were building from scratch with a budget equivalent to the value of our players, you might sign many of them, and be delighted to, but you wouldn’t sign them all.

    Ramsey himself sums up that situation neatly, in that he is a player who ,for me at least, is far too good not to be in the team, and one who I wouldn’t even want to play out of position much, but…who do you leave out? What is our best team?

    I sympathise with Wenger. He has done everything to develop the huge talents of Ramsey and Wilshere, ditto Walcott and the Ox, then he signs three fantastic fantasy players in Cazorla, Ozil and Sanchez. Then he finds, at a problem time, things have clicked for Coquelin and he can be a big player for the first team. But just how do you harness all that talent, and is there an ideal balance among them?

    I really don’t know, but I guess the answers will pretty much come this year.

    My bet is that he drops Coquelin for Sunday. Ramsey, Cazorla, Ozil, Ox and Sanchez

    • Danny Ryan August 13, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

      It’s so difficult to chose the right team at the moment, we just seem to have too many talented midfielers! We should be happy about that but sadly it’s become quite a burden in a way.

      I would be surprised if he dropped coquelin but Wenger has surprised me many times before, if he does I’ll be scares watching the Palace game!

  6. Hard Ogura August 13, 2015 at 7:12 pm #

    I fully agree with Danny. Headache’s line up is missing a tackler and that is master Coquelin. He was the difference of the second part of last season with perfect partner of Carzola not others whom he doesn’t understand their movements and positioning.

    • Danny Ryan August 13, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

      Coquelin is irreplaceable at this moment in time so yes we have to play to his strengths, unfortunately Rambo is not a suitable candidate for that, shame really

  7. King August 13, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

    Ramsey cannot be benched. He couldn’t be benched at his worst from ever and he cannot be benched now…his contribution to the game is invaluable and very few notice it. People look for small mistakes in players and fail to realize their overall contribution to the gmae

    • Dave Seager August 13, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

      You seen to be in the minority today

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