Arsenal v Manchester City Arsenal’s cup king Aaron Ramsey key to Wembley success Chris Wheatley Arsenal correspondent Last updated 1 year ago 17:50 2/25/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Arsenal v Manchester City League Cup Manchester City Arsenal The midfielder will be hoping to return from injury to start against Man City on Sunday in a stadium where he has made his name in recent years Aaron Ramsey took over the mantle as Arsenal’s longest-serving player when Theo Walcott joined Everton during the January transfer window. The Wales international midfielder had also taken on the responsibility of becoming the Gunners’ midfield lynchpin before a groin injury curtailed his magnificent progress in the league, where he had scored six goals and made seven assists in 18 appearances.Turning the clock back, Ramsey was left in tears after losing the 2008 FA Cup final to Portsmouth when he was a schoolboy at Cardiff. Aged just 16 years and 142 days, the fresh faced youngster played the final 30 minutes of a match which former Arsenal striker Kanu scored the winner in. While Ramsey was unable to make any impact on that particular Wembley final, it’s fair to say he’s since developed into a player capable of producing match-winning moments in big games – scoring two FA Cup-winning goals for Arsenal in the past three seasons.The 25-year-old covered the most distance of anyone in an FA Cup final during Arsenal’s victory over Chelsea last season: 14.4km (a kilometre every 6.25 minutes). Additionally to scoring the headed winner past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, the combative midfielder had a 95% pass completion rate and dominated the centre of the park with his powerful runs from deep into the box. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player “He is a Frank Lampard-type player,” Wenger said. “He is getting in the box and he has a huge capacity to run. Certainly physically he has a combination of stamina, power – and his capacity to repeat high intensity is certainly the best in the league.”Wenger has echoed those sentiments over the years and if it wasn’t for several injury-plagued seasons, including a leg break against Stoke in 2010, then Ramsey’s progress may have been even further ahead than it is at present. His main qualities in the Arsenal team are centred around his relentless running and ability to penetrate the final third while opening up space for the players around him – and being played in his favoured central midfield position now finally looks a viable option.“I am a central midfielder and that’s where I like to be,” Ramsey said in 2016. “I like to be involved a lot more in the game.”Indeed, Wenger said two seasons ago that he played Ramsey in an unfavoured right wing role because “it gives the team balance”. He referred to Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud, Walcott and Santi Cazorla but those players have now been and gone, with only Cazorla still at the club but sidelined with a long-term Achilles injury.There is no doubt that this is Ramsey’s best season since the 2013-14 campaign where he scored 18 times from central midfield. He’s a player who has a higher average number of goals and assists than Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere, while he creates more chances and makes more tackles than all of Arsenal’s central midfielders put together.Interestingly, Wenger’s reference to the ‘balance’ in midfield suggests that he doesn’t see Ramsey as the tactical, defensive player who he’d prefer to have there. Without a defensive midfielder or someone with defensive qualities to protect the back four, Arsenal could be left exposed due to the rampaging runs of Ramsey as well as Granit Xhaka’s tendency to break forward and leave gaps in the midfield.At Euro 2016, Ramsey flourished in midfield for Wales because he was utilised in his favoured role. This season he’s showing the same kind of form which won him plaudits for his performances in France. Aware of his positional responsibilities and subject to interest from several top clubs in Europe, it’s imperative that Wenger ties his star man down to a new contract before his deal expires next summer.“Why not? It is all there,” said Wenger when asked whether Ramsey could become Arsenal captain.“He has maturity, has improved technically and is more conscious of the importance of his technical qualities. His game is clean. He has a huge physical power. The target for him will be to have 30 games.”Could the captain’s armband be the potential incentive to prolong his career at Arsenal? For Ramsey it will almost certainly be staying fit, then playing in his favoured position and winning trophies. The latter is something Ramsey knows all about.
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