Arsenal fans made much of the renewing of Mesut Özil’s contract on the final day of the January transfer window. A future without Özil appeared incomprehensible for Arsenal fans – it seemingly indicated an unprecedented slide into a level of mediocrity that had not been experienced at any point since Arsene Wenger arrived in North London. Arsenal’s solution is not Özil however; the man who Arsenal must commit to a long term contract, and then build a team around is Aaron Ramsey. If Arsenal fail to secure the future of Ramsey, then they can expect a serious challenge to replace a player whose ability to impact games at both ends makes him one of the most valuable midfielders in the squad.
For a man whose goals have won the Club two FA Cups, following a horrendous leg break as an eighteen-year-old, Ramsey is criminally underrated by Arsenal fans. The team’s record without him in the side really speaks for itself however – without Ramsey Arsenal have recorded just three wins out of a possible sixteen. Comparison to his midfield peers – Xhaka, Wilshere, Özil’s and ElNeny – sees him with a higher average number of goals and assists. He is second only to Özil’s and Xhaka in chances created and tackles respectively, illustrating the all-round ability which Ramsey displays.
The explanation for this is that Ramsey runs from deep midfield add a completely different dimension to Arsenal’s attack. Countless performances away from home this season – whether it be Swansea, Tottenham or Chelsea – have seen Arsenal look bland and insipid in attack. As the only midfielder in the side willing to run beyond the back four, an Arsenal team without Ramsey is one which has been proven to be easy to defend against. One only has to look at the issues which both Manchester United and Chelsea have had in finding a goal scoring box to box midfielder in order to realize what a rare commodity Ramsey is, and how essential it is that Arsenal hold on to their Welsh midfielder.
Injuries have continued to blight the midfielder’s progress, however there is no doubt that if Arsenal are serious about re-entering the top four and challenging for a league title they must keep Ramsey. Failure to do so would be a bigger mistake than allowing Özil to leave for free, and would seriously constrain Arsenal in their attempts to build an offence capable of breaking back into the top four.