by Lewis Ambrose
Aaron Ramsey starred in Arsenal’s demolition of Lyon on Saturday with a superb performance capped by a goal and an assist.
The Welsh midfielder’s display underlined a recent interview with the Guardian in which he said he aims to win back a central place in the Arsenal team this season. First and foremost the midfielder is targeting a season without as many injuries, which have disrupted the last two campaigns.
“It was difficult last season because of the injuries I had again, especially as it wasn’t just one injury,” Ramsey said. “It was a month out and then I came back … it was another month out and then I came back. So it’s hard to get a rhythm going.”
Ramsey didn’t have a bad season by any means but he was often less impressive than the previous year. With so many games coming at once for Arsenal it can be difficult to get back in the team and hit top form straight after returning from time on the sidelines, so staying fit is imperative.
“You might feel a yard or two off it when you return and then it takes a few extra games to get going again. So it was a frustrating one for me,” the Welshman admitted. “But in the games I did play, I did still have an impact, I set up a few goals and got into double figures.”
That really is impressive, and it was no fluke. Back-to-back years have now seen Ramsey display an incredible ability in front of goal. He has become a calm finisher and he can sniff out a chance, often finding himself in the right positions. Now he wants to be in his favoured role again so he can get in those positions as often as possible, as we saw on Saturday against Lyon.
“I just want to stay fit and healthy this season, have a full campaign and get my place back in the middle of the park, because that’s where I feel that I play my best football.
“I want to have the freedom to go forward but also, once we’re defending, I’ll obviously have to get back in. I don’t want to be fixed in front of the back four or in the hole, I want to be the one who can do both and get up and down.”
Ramsey is very much a box-to-box player. His willingness to be involved in every phase of the game is only aided by his athleticism but it is difficult to manage that throughout an entire campaign.
“I always give it my everything no matter what, if it is in training or games,” Ramsey said. “But I think especially the back end of last season we improved that a lot, where I did have a few sessions just to recover that bit more. Because I do put in a big shift in games and it’s difficult sometimes, when you’re playing two or three games in a week, to recover fully and go into the game fresh.”
Arsenal have worked on the fitness staff at the club, appointing Shad Forsyth last summer.
“I definitely managed myself better with that in the second half of the season. And it had to be done, because I was always breaking down, so we needed to look at something and I feel we’ve done that. Hopefully we’ll continue doing that and it will get me fit throughout the season.”
A fit Aaron Ramsey is superb, especially through the middle. If Arsène Wenger can choose him every week, and puts him in his best position more often than not, Arsenal have every chance of going on to big things.