by Lewis Ambrose
First came Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane, a monumental battle between two midfielders each year.
Those two Goliaths of midfield were replaced by a slightly different rivalry as, for years, the Premier League was dominated by freely scoring Frank Lampard and the incredibly rounded Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, the two Englishmen who were infamously never able to play with each other but will be remembered by Chelsea and Liverpool fans for the rest of time.
Both depart the Premier League this summer and leave a gaping hole in their place – who is the king of Premier League midfielders?
Enter Aaron Ramsey. A midfielder who can tackle, play intricate through passes and ping laser guided long range balls. An athlete with the engine of a long-distance runner. A Welshman with a nose for goal and incredible reading of the game.
“I think a top-class midfielder needs to be able to tackle, get up and down the pitch, pass, create opportunities and score goals,” said Ramsey in an interview with Bleacher Report, as he seems to just be describing himself.
“That’s why I try to do everything, that’s what I judge my game on.
“If you look at someone like Steven Gerrard, he combines all of those elements. That’s what I want to [emulate]… so that’s what I base my game on.”
He doesn’t do a bad job, when he’s fit. Ramsey has to stay fit now, and he’ll be vital to any Arsenal charge for a trophy.
The end of the 2012/13 season saw Ramsey nail down a place in the team for the first time since his broken leg in 2010, forming a partnership with Mikel Arteta that helped Arsenal make up a big gap to beat Tottenham to fourth place.
A few months later and he was the best player in England, adding goals to his game to become the complete all-round midfield player. Ramsey capped a season of a lifetime with an FA Cup Final winner against Hull and – when fit – continued to show what he can do last season.
In short, he can do everything.
Tap-ins, volleys and smart one-one-ones, Ramsey has scored every type of goal in the last two years. But what’s his favourite?
A 35 yard volley on his weaker left side against Galatasaray, of course. A strike which won Arsenal goal of the season for 2014/15.
“That’s definitely the best I’ve scored so far,
“Definitely the best in my career. When I hit it I think even I was a bit surprised at how it went in. And their fans at the end they were standing and applauding; that was a good feeling.”
Aaron Ramsey hasn’t stopped getting better and is setting himself high targets.
“I want to keep on improving as a player, and become the best…one of the best midfielders in my position in the world,” the Welshman said.
“In all ways I want to be better, in all of these things that top midfielders can do.
“If I progress the way that I think I can, the way that I have been, then I believe I can achieve that.”
I would argue he already has become one of the best midfielders in the world.
If Ramsey himself doesn’t think so and it drives him on to achieve more, then I have no issue with that. If Aaron Ramsey isn’t world class already he is going to be in the near future, and that can only be good for Arsenal.