After a superb Euros with Wales, Aaron Ramsey is in a difficult position when he returns to club football, as there isn’t a clear place for him in the first team. In France, he excelled in a free role behind the two forwards, creating lots of chances and dictating the play. He won’t be able to play a similar role at Arsenal, as they already have much more talented players in the midfield. Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil will be the leaders of the attack, which reduces the possibility to Ramsey being deployed behind the striker, as he was by Wales.
Ramsey is a superb midfielder, but he is best when playing in a three. Arsenal play a 4-2-3-1 formation the majority of the time and the two midfielders have a crucial role in making that work. Granit Xhaka is all but certain to be a regular this season. The other position is up for grabs with Ramsey, Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla competing for it. Wenger may look to use a double pivot, with Coquelin next to Xhaka to provide the defence with more cover. They are short in defence and having two defensive minded midfielders could help solve that problem. On the other hand, Cazorla may be chosen to partner Xhaka as he can dictate the play from deep and has been a consistent performer for the club down the years.
Although Ramsey could be used in this role, his poor positioning was showed up at times last season. During Arsenal’s poor run of form after Christmas, he was partnering Mathieu Flamini and they were partly at fault. Ramsey’s reading of the game and defensive contribution was shown up next to Flamini, but this may have been due to having to do more running to compensate for Flamini.
Another option for the club is to utilise Ramsey on the right wing, as they are lacking a starter in that role. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott both had poor seasons at Arsenal last season, which leaves the right wing spot open. Ramsey has played there occasionally and can do well there. He looks to drift inside and attack the central areas, which works well as it allows Hector Bellerin to overlap outside him. The Welsh international isn’t a natural winger though and it can leave the side unbalanced with him in that position.
Last season was a good one for Ramsey, he was a regular in the side and was an attacking threat throughout. He managed to contribute five goals and four assists over the course of the season. His season was impressive as he was made to play a number of positions, and it is his versatility that makes him indispensable to the Arsenal squad. However, at the European Championships, he got four assists in five games and it looked like he took a step up in his career. Ramsey was excellent at creating openings for his side and was a lot better on the ball than he had been for Arsenal over the season. He is now 25 and looking to assert himself as a great midfield player.
Personally, I’d look to utilise Ramsey as a number eight, alongside Xhaka who will sit deeper. This will give Ramsey the freedom to get forward and get on the ball in the final third. He has the energy to get around the pitch and has improved creatively over the last few months, making him a good option for the midfield. There remain doubts about where Ramsey should play for Arsenal. He excelled for Wales, but he is a key player in the national team and given a role to get the best out of him. At club level, there are better players in the squad and Ramsey must play a more functional role. Alongside Xhaka, he could thrive and finally settle in one position for Arsenal. It is a huge season for Ramsey and he needs to carry on his positive momentum from the Euros.