What is Aaron Ramsey’s Best Possible Position for Arsenal?


Aaron Ramsey put another game as a right winger under his belt against a gritty Burnley side and with him scoring the only goal and putting in what was, in my opinion, a man of the match performance, it begs the question of where exactly he’s best used for Arsenal.

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While up until this year he’s been predominantly used in the center of the pitch in a deeper role so as to utilize his box-to-box play style, he’s been used on the right wing now in two consecutive games, while the much smaller Santi Cazorla has been opted for in the deeper role next to Francis Coquelin. On the surface, it’s a bit of a befuddling choice. Ramsey has much better defensive qualities when compared to Cazorla. He’s more physical and more keen to step up and make a challenge. Santi Cazorla on the other hand is a Mesut Ozil type, a passer with superb dribbling skills that’s more often seen in the front of the pitch.

But Ramsey as a right winger has put in some very good performances this year. As a right winger/right attacking midfielder, he’s appeared only two times, but scored twice and assisted twice, with both assists coming in Arsenal’s dominant display against Liverpool. Compare those solid offensive numbers to just two goals and two assists in eleven appearances when deployed next to Coquelin. His other four goals and two assists have come when he plays a central attacking midfielder role (10 appearances)(Stats via WhoScored.com).

Fleshed out over a bigger period of time, Ramsey is projected to dwarf his offensive stats of any other position when deployed as an advanced right midfielder. But what made him even considered for the part in the first place?

Aaron Ramsey’s usefulness on the right side of the attack comes from what Arsenal need as a team. On the left side, an experienced Nacho Monreal is at the back. In front of him is a back-tracking Alexis Sanchez who will always be prevalent on defense. Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla are also on the left side. That’s a pretty solid defensive scheme. Monreal is solid in and of himself but Cazorla tracks back averagely (not as good as Aaron Ramsey) and Alexis is, as I said, always a force.

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On the right side though, Hector Bellerin gets forward very frequently, and his lack of experience may be a cause for concern. Arsene Wenger has paired our best possible non-Francis Coquelin midfielder (in terms of defense) with our least experienced fullback. Putting Cazorla here would leave the right side exposed defensively. Ramsey will drift center as well and allow space for Bellerin to drift in wide.

It’s a perfect team scheme, not to mention Ramsey is right-footed anyways. He’s not going to make many runs down the right side of the pitch like a traditional winger would, but that’s what Bellerin is for behind him. Bellerin does for Ramsey on the offensive front what he doesn’t normally do, while Ramsey provides enough cover to allow Bellerin to do so. It really is quite the combination.

When played at a defensive position, Aaron Ramsey isn’t always permitted to get as far forward as he (and Arsenal) would like. He’s forced to stay back and provide defensive cover. On the advanced right, he has as much freedom and space as Alexis Sanchez has on the left, and that kind of space and freedom is exactly what Ramsey needs. Confining him to the center hinders and limits him, mainly because he has so many other players in the area – Mesut Ozil, Alexis, Cazorla. But on the right side he can drift center, he can lay it out to Bellerin, and he can drive at teams all by himself. Ozil shies away from the right side and Cazorla is naturally positioned on the left, so it really is all Ramsey and Bellerin behind him.

With Aaron Ramsey’s uncanny knack for popping up in goal-scoring opportunities, he needs to be played in a more advanced role to provide him the space to get in that sort of position. Right wing may be the best place for him to utilize all of his skill set. Between the space, the lack of clustered bodies, the predominant foot and his box to box style allowed to roam freely on an open plain, he may have found an unlikely home.

But that’s just my opinion. What do you think?

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