Nov 7, 2013, 10:56 AM EDT
Arsenal are on top of the Barclays Premier League table. The Gunners also currently lead their Champions League Group of Death.
Everything is clicking at the Emirates this season, and somehow, some way, the most improbable of players is at the forefront of their early-season charge.
It’s not Olivier Giroud, the in-form French striker who has earned himself – for now – a stay in the French national side with fantastic play in front of goal.
It’s not Mesut Ozil, the prolific German who Arsenal paid £44 million ($70.7 million) for in one of the highest-profile transfers of the summer.
No, it’s Aaron Ramsey, scorer of just 11 goals in his 150 games before this season. Recipient of a horrific broken leg three seasons ago that left him wondering if he’ll ever play again. Emergency purveyor of right-back in the first half of last year when things were going from bad to worse in North London.
Aaron Ramsey this season, however, is the proud owner of 11 goals this year – most of any Gunner – including the winner against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday in one of the most meaningful European victories in Arsenal history.
The 22-year-old holding midfielder is having a season for the ages, a stunner that has graced us from the depths of Douglas Adams’ Infinite Improbability Drive, and it’s captivating.
His work rate has been astonishing. Of Arsenal’s 1620 minutes played so far this season, Ramsey has played 1,444 of them, second on the team only to defender Per Mertesacker. His 11 goals leads the Arsenal squad this season, and he’s contributed five assists and created 13 chances.
Manager Arsene Wenger has been an admirer of Ramsey from the beginning. While courting the youngster back in 2008, Wenger fought off Manchester United and Liverpool for Ramsey’s signature by flying the player out in a private jet to Austria and Switzerland to watch Euro 2008 while the manager made his pitch.
In September, when Ramsey’s stellar season was still just a protostar, Wenger saw what was coming. “There’s still a lot of improvement to come from him,” the Frenchman declared following a 2-1 win at Swansea. Prophetic.
But don’t just go labeling Ramsey just a goal-scorer all of a sudden. According to Squawka statistics, the Welsh kid leads the Barclays Premier League with 40 successful tackles, proving he plays his role as a holding midfielder just as well, something that makes his manager smile even more than finishing goals.
“I didn’t expect him to score so many goals but he has improved in his passing, his technical quality,” Wenger told the Daily Mail just over a month ago. “He was always in good positions in the box…For me the most important thing is the quality of his game. Aaron is playing well and that is most important, that he continues to improve.”
However, in the past Ramsey was just a role player, a cog in the greater whole. This year, he’s breaking out. “This season he has the confidence and he has an unbelievable engine to get from box to box,” said Wenger. “His ability makes him a dangerous player.”
And what an asset it is for Arsenal to have such a dangerous player. While teams are preparing to defend the likes of Giroud and Ozil, Ramsey is there to pick up the pieces.
A player who once scored so rarely it was commonly joked that he murdered celebrities with his goals is now bagging them at a regular pace. But more importantly, he’s led his team to the top early on with every intention of keeping them there. And he’s got his whole career in front of him.
Jul 24, 2014, 7:04 PM EDT
Pinto will depart after failing to come to new terms with the federation.
Jul 24, 2014, 6:12 PM EDT
After appearing three times at Brazil 2014, Besic is set to add depth behind Gareth Barry and James McCarthy.
Jul 24, 2014, 5:21 PM EDT
Adu close to joining the 10th club in his 11-year career.
Jul 24, 2014, 4:08 PM EDT
After seeing time with the senior squad, 18-year-old prospect will be sidelined indefinitely.
Jul 24, 2014, 3:25 PM EDT
The Colombian striker takes a few hacks before AS Monaco’s friendly in Miami against Atletico National.
Jul 24, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT
Limited to just 16 matches last year after his big transfer from Liverpool to West Ham, Carroll is battling another ailment this season.
Jul 24, 2014, 2:09 PM EDT
The rags-to-riches defender steps away from the pitch, at least as a player, while reflecting on his career journey from North America to Europe and back.
Jul 24, 2014, 1:46 PM EDT
Herrera chats exclusively to PST: “If we are a humble team and we work hard, we will achieve our objectives and we will win trophies.”
Jul 24, 2014, 1:26 PM EDT
His dad played for El Tri, but California-born Fernando Arce Jr says his U-20 bow with the States makes him an American player “forever”
Jul 24, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Aston Villa, Manchester United and Manchester City all cruised, while Spurs had to find a late winner after coughing up a two-goal lead.
Jul 24, 2014, 12:47 PM EDT
What about the Premier League? Bundesliga? Serie A?
Jul 24, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT
Goran Milanovic is hoping the former American prodigy chooses to revitalize his career with FK Jagodina in the Serbian top flight.
Jul 24, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
One of the best stories is United States men’s soccer history is about to move past the “playing career” chapter.
Jul 24, 2014, 11:47 AM EDT
How big of a deal is the Chelsea legend signing for New York City FC? It’s up there.
Jul 24, 2014, 11:14 AM EDT
Lampard: “I want to test myself, carry on challenging myself, I want to be that leader and that person on and off the pitch that can make things happen for this club.”
Jul 24, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT
The 36-year-old becomes New York City FC’s fourth player.
Jul 24, 2014, 10:25 AM EDT
The Manchester United boss proves that even Premier League training sessions sometimes echo your experiences on a youth travel team.
Jul 24, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT
The Reds striker spends some time with the NBCSN broadcast crew during Liverpool and AS Roma’s ‘Football at Fenway’
Jul 24, 2014, 9:29 AM EDT
The Ecuadorian star winger, 24, joins Gylfi Sigurdsson and Bafetimbi Gomis as players to beef up Garry Monk’s attack
Sporting Club announces plans for $75 million “soccer village” for US Soccer National Training Center
Jul 24, 2014, 9:01 AM EDT
Well, this sounds nice…
- EXCLUSIVE: Manchester United’s new signing Ander Herrera focused on success 2
- Serbian boss: Freddy Adu sought by Europa, UCL clubs in Serbia, Cyprus 0
- Frank Lampard delighted to sign for New York City FC, start MLS adventure 1
- Official: Frank Lampard unveiled as New York City FC’s latest signing 3
- Sporting Club announces plans for $75 million “soccer village” for US Soccer National Training Center 13
- “Embarrassed” in LA, thrilled in Manchester: Reactions to 7-0 beatdown 32