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Thinking through Aaron Ramsey’s injury absence during a busy Arsenal spell

Dec 26, 2013, 7:02 PM EDT

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A couple of points to make as we consider Aaron Ramsey’s injury and how it might impact the Premier League leaders and the race going forward. The vital Arsenal midfielder (team’s leading scorer, driving midfield force and all) is out for the time being with a thigh strain suffered in Thursday’s 3-1 victory achieved in what they call East, East, East London.

First, Ramsey’s season in total has been absolutely sensational. The word “breakthrough” or perhaps “breakout” fits quite well. But if we examine the Welsh international’s outings over the last three weeks or so … “meh.”

No coincidence, in fact, that Ramsey’s dip in form and production has coincided with Arsenal’s rickety spell. Thursday’s Boxing Day win at Upton Park was Arsenal’s first in five matches (across all competitions).

So, perhaps a little “rest,” such that it is during an injury recovery, will serve as a control-alt-delete kind of moment, a reboot that will clear the mind and body and get the man pointed north again.

Second, Lukas Podolski’s return will help mitigate the blow.

(MORE: What we learned about Arsenal in Thursday’s win at Upton Park)

It may mean Jack Wilshere or Mathieu Flamini taking Ramsey’s spot alongside Mikel Arteta. Or manager Arsene Wenger could rearrange the formation, going back to a truer 4-3-3, perhaps, with Podolski generating greater left-sided width. That’s what they pay Wenger for, after all, to adapt and adjust and such.

Finally there’s this: personnel-wise, the timing is OK (due to Podolski’s return). But schedule-wise, the timing stinks. Arsenal has three matches over the next nine days, including a biggie against North London rival Tottenham on Jan. 4, an FA Cup third-round contest.

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