Like most Arsenal fans, I was amazed by the impressive return to form of Aaron ‘Rambo’ Ramsey last season. After the horrifying injury he sustained at the Britannia Stadium, fans believed that another bright career had ended on a very ugly note. To the surprise of many, Ramsey made a quick recovery and was back on the pitch within 9 months.
The season that followed wasn’t a very bright one and it looked like he was headed down the same path as Eduardo. In the 2012-13 season, Ramsey looked determined to prove a point. Assuming a variety of roles (from attacking mid-fielder and winger to defensive mid-fielder and full-back), Ramsey made 36 league appearances for the North London club but in comparison to Wilshere, it appeared that Ramsey had a lot of work to do.
Looking back at the highlights of some of the games from last season, I found that there were times when one could see flashes of the former club-hero Cesc Fábregas in Ramsey’s game. While Jack Wilshere is widely regarded as the successor to the Spaniard, I strongly believe that Aaron Ramsey can give him a run for his money. Here’s a detailed statistical analysis of Ramsey’s last season to Cesc’s excellent 2010/11 season.
Fabregas in 2010-11 had made a total of 25 league appearances (with 22 starts) and played for 1887 minutes. Ramsey on the other hand made 36 appearances, coming on from the bench on 14 occasions and playing for 2086 minutes in the 2012-12 season.
The stats indicate that Ramsey clearly ‘outnumbers‘ Fábregas in defending. However, the impressive numbers of Ramsey may be down to the fact that he was deployed as a defensive mid-fielder on several occasions and as a full-back at times to accommodate another attacking player when Arsenal surged ahead, looking for an equalizer. Hence, it will only be fair to move on to the next part of this analysis.
This particular comparison throws up some surprises. Having formed a formidable partnership with masters of the passing game like Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla, Ramsey clearly appears to have improved significantly. Ramsey’s over-all passing accuracy is almost 10% better than Fábregas’. Ramsey’s passing accuracy (defensive zone as well as attacking zone) is very impressive and is at par with the stats of Arteta, Cazorla and Wilshere from the same season. At times in the 2011-12 season, Ramsey was criticized for his indecisive passing and for slowing up the tempo of the game. He looks to have learnt his lessons and worked very hard on the ‘passing aspect of his game’. Let us now move onto the next part of this analysis.
At Arsenal, Fábregas was deployed mainly as a central or attacking mid-fielder. What Arsenal have dearly missed since 2010-11 comes to light in this particular analysis. Between 2006–07 and 2010–11, Fàbregas created the most chances in the top-division leagues of England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France. The creativity role has been emulated to some extent by one of the Gunners’ players of the last season, Santi Cazorla (you may want to take a look at an analysis of Cazorla I did sometime back: Cazorla compared to team mates ) but what may be worrying to Arsenal fans is the comparatively poor statistics of Ramsey in term of creativity. This particular area of his game is something that Ramsey needs to improve upon to become a regular starter in Arsenal’s line-up.
There may be an argument that Ramsey’s below average statisitcs in this particular analysis is due to him being used in a variety of positions. However, he has had ample attempts on goal but very poor finishing. This is another area that Ramsey needs to address. The only positive coming out in favour of Ramsey is that percentage-wise, he is very close to Fábregas in terms of shooting accuracy.
Cesc is clearly one of the best and most versatile mid-fielders in the world. It is very difficult find a straight replacement for a player of this class but Wenger has managed to fill the void with players like Cazorla, Ramsey and Wilshere. Due to injuries, Cesc Fábregas could only average about 23 games a season in his last 3 seasons at North London. Even then, his departure meant that Arsenal had a huge void to fill. The situation was further aggravated by the hasty departure of previous season’s star performer Samir Nasri and a long-term injury to rising star Jack Wilshere. Despite the arrival of Mikel Arteta on deadline day, Aaron Ramsey had a major part to play in Arsenal’s 2011-12 campaign but he failed to come to the fore (mainly due to his injury).
Ramsey found his stride towards the end of last season and helped the club secure a top-4 finish. His contribution to the team may have been dwarfed to some extent because of the impressive performances of Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla in particular, but he made a statement that he was here to stay. A testament to his determination and work-rate is noticeable from Wenger’s admiration for the player. The Arsenal boss has described Ramsey as an “offence-minded Roy Keane” and as an “all-round player with ability to cover distances.” Ramsey needs to continue his impressive run of form and give a high-performance output to the team every time he takes to the field. To justify the faith put in him by the club management and become a top-class player, Ramsey needs to work more on his creativity and finishing his key weakness although I do believe he can adapt and add this to his game and the addition of strong holding midfielder to the team may give Ramsey more license to enhance his attacking game.
With a plethora of talent in the mid-field, Wenger will have a hard time to pick his central mid-fielders. This was unexpected after the summer of 2011 when Arsenal lost 2 of their best mid-fielders, but they appear to have moved on. As the Gunners look to finally put an end to the 8-year long wait for silverware, Aaron ‘Rambo’ Ramsey may well be a vital cog in them achieving their objective. With a little more consistency, he can be the player that Arsenal always wanted him to be.
As for the Arsenal fans pondering over the return of Fábregas, I only have to say that Wenger will be the first to know if and when Cesc decides to call it quits at the Nou Camp (which seems highly unlikely now) and go elsewhere. The ‘buy-back’ clause that Wenger was adamant to include in Fabregas’ transfer contract provides an assurance that the manager will not let his one time prodigy join bitter rivals Manchester United. But it will be foolish to predict anything
Please note that the comparisons made and inferences drawn are based purely on statistics, which may not always correlate with the actual performances of the players. Some of you may have a different point of view or may look at the statistics differently, so feel free to share it with me here or on twitter ( @SilverHawk_24 ). Until next time, this is me signing off!
Love sports and statistics. The two combined make the perfect match for me.
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