Nothing much going on right now given that we do not play until Monday. A good chance to rest some legs, get some players closer to fitness (Abou is playing under 21s tonight) and get Arteta booked into see a dentist, poor guy.
I read Arseblog's excellent piece this morning on Aaron Ramsey and felt inspired to say a few words of my own on the guy. In the first half of the season I felt like all I was doing was complimenting Ramsey on his performances and development. If you look at the little gif box on the left of the website, most of those clips are of Aaron. Why? because most of what was so good about Arsenal in the early part of the season came through him.
We had signed a £42.5m pound play maker from Real Madrid yet the best player on the pitch consistently was Aaron Ramsey.
Going back to the summer in which we fought our way in and pulled him away from the clutches of Gary Neville and Alex Ferguson (Haha) I wondered what we were getting. A highly rated midfielder who was playing for Cardiff at a very young age. 'Another one of those bloody kids that Wenger likes to sign' was joining the squad.
I'm sure I've said this a few times and without wanting to sound like that uncle at parties who says the same story every year (I don't actually have an uncle who does that but it sounded good) I will say so again.
I remember his first pre season game for us (I think) against Barnet and what instantly stood out was his balls. Not literally, that would be weird but he was running around demanding the ball from senior players and spraying the ball around the pitch.
This kid had turned up from nowhere and is placing his hands out in front of him telling experienced players to give him the ball. Nerves clearly did not exist to this kid.
I have just had a look through the archives and I found my post Barnet thoughts (20th July 2008)
"Denilson looking to get the vote of being Flamini's replacement was a little rusty and didn't dominate the midfield like his midfield partner did. Aaron Ramsay looked like an experienced senior player in the middle of a bunch of kids. He was all over the pitch spraying passes all over the field. Running box to box and trying to take control of the midfield. What I liked about him was the way he ran to take the ball from the feet of our own players and then drove forward. Reminded me of the Steven Gerrard mentality.
Early signs look very positive for the lad, for a player who is likely to get a lot better, I was very impressed."
WTF was I doing calling him Ramsay? I deserve a good beating for that. I am very sorry.
Then in a blog called Aaron the new Cesc? Diaby the saviour? on 8th October 2008 I wrote this
"I must say I like the look of Ramsey, he is more of an all action hero than Cesc is. I suppose you can say he is a blend of Gerrard and Cesc. The one thing that he doesn't have at his age that Cesc had was the ability to keep the ball. Cesc always made the right choice, always had the correct weight of pass. Aaron Ramsey seems to have what he wants to do in his head but then either plays the ball too softly or doesn't find his intended target.
What I do like about Mr Ramsey is his attitude, something the rest of the squad lack at present. "
Interestingly I found a quote from then Wales Under 21s boss Brian Flynn and he had some rather glowing things to say about Ramsey.
"I've been watching Aaron since he was 14. He can be anything he wants to be in the game," he said.
"At this stage, this age, he is as good as Cesc Fabregas. I see him as a top-six Premier League player and a top international player anywhere in Europe.
"He is quite something, and I can compare him to one of the best youngsters in the world in Fabregas.
"He is very close to being a senior international but we want him to help the Under-21s first. "
I might ask Brian for this weekends lottery numbers, not that you need to be able to see into the future to understand his talents when viewing from close up I guess.
Here is the thing though, those who know me will tell you that I have a habit of over hyping our youngsters. I thought Jay Emmanuel-Thomas would become an Arsenal great. I thought Bentley would become the new Dennis Bergkamp *slaps self... hard*, I have waxed lyrical over Jack Wilshere ever since he was 16 years of age. Daniel Crowley is my new obsession now but that is for another time. The thing is, while I rated Aaron and hoped he would blossom into a top midfielder I really did not see this. I didn't know Ramsey would be this good.
I thought the abuse that was headed his way was utterly stupid and ridiculous. His injury problems and youth seemed a pretty obvious reason (or do you like the word excuse in this case?) for his inconsistent performances but I didn't envisage the player that we are seeing today.
I have always (until this season) thought that Jack Wilshere was the more talented of the two, maybe that is still the case but by gee, Jack will have to develop considerably to get into Ramsey's bracket today. If he gets anywhere close then we should be very, very happy as fans.
It was only last season (or was it the one before that) that I thought Rambo could prove to be Mikel Arteta's longer term replacement. Remember when Arteta picked up an injury for a few weeks and Ramsey filled that role very well. In fact I vaguely remember that being the time where he started to simplify his game a little. He even spoke about it afterwards somewhere.
He was taking a little too much time on the ball before that and made mistakes but playing as the deepest midfielder he was mopping up, keeping possession and ultimately that might have done him some good.
When Robin van Persie was in his last season, Ramsey kept getting into good positions in the box. The ball somehow kept falling to him and Ramsey would more often than not belt the ball high and wide. I wondered why he needed to keep lashing at it the way he did. Time and time again balls fell to him but the kid could not score goals like he used to before his leg was broken.
There were rumours doing the rounds that van Persie and Ramsey did not get on at all. I can see that now. Both players seem very demanding of the ball regardless of who is in possession. van Persie would yell at Gervinho and Walcott if he didn't get a pass. Watch Ramsey now and he is always screaming at his players to pass to him, both strong willed characters who probably rubbed each other up the wrong way.
Allegedly van Persie told Arsene that Ramsey wasn't good enough. Haha! I bet he had a secondary Twitter account called Venga Out with tweets to Ramsey wishing of his death just like a few other pricks who did the same at the time.
Today we have a different beast, Aaron almost has an air of invincibility around him these days. When he was asked if he ever wonders about what might have been had he not succumbed to injury, Ramsey smiled and said yes all the time, such is his belief in his own quality. I don't think you can blame him after his ridiculously high upwards curve in the past 15 or so months.
Defensively, offensively and physically we have missed Ramsey. I play enough of the what if game in my head so I don't need to bore you with it all but yeah, you just don't know where we'd be had Ramsey managed this season without injury.
The scary part is that I don't think Ramsey has finished improving yet. @ArsenalColumn made the observation on Twitter the other night that it looks like Aaron has been working on his set pieces. You know, the Ronaldo, Bale, Juninho style free kick. He had one (a little too wide for it really) against Hull that he hit flat into the wall but the style, body shape was very similar. He would be just the type to work on another part of his game to make him an even better player, he strikes me as that sort of bloke.
Given his superman rise, I reckon a decent bet would be Ramsey scoring the most amount of direct free kicks next season. Reckon you'd get decent odds on that.
My six year old son is starting to ditch Ben 10 and replace it with the Arsenal which is great news. My work is finally paying off. While he was playing FIFA this morning on his last day of school holidays he asked me who was the best player at Arsenal.
I paused for a while, flicking through our best players Özil, Mertesacker, Walcott, Santi and I said Aaron Ramsey. I might not be correct but I'm pretty sure it won't be long before I am.