Aaron Ramsey: Arsenal’s Tactical Keystone


A look at Aaron Ramsey’s deployment of late will show you two things. First, he’s been moved out to the right; a throwback to earlier days when Arsene Wenger deployed him on that flank to aid in his development. The other thing you’ll notice is how the Arsenal squad flexes and adapts based on where he plays.

Ramsey saw his first significant time in a couple years spent on the right flank against Liverpool, when Wenger used his work rate to pressure the Reds’ passing out of the defense. This is a task Danny Welbeck can also execute, though the passing and vision of Aaron Ramsey increases the chances of making the opponent pay for any mistakes made in dangerous areas. Arsene Wenger got that completely right, especially since Hector Bellerin was the right fullback that day.

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Which leads us to an interesting point. Aaron Ramsey’s efficacy when deployed on the right is heavily linked to who the fullback is on that side. With Bellerin’s speed and willingness to drive into advanced areas behind him, it provides width on Arsenal’s right flank. Replace the young Spaniard with Mathieu Debuchy as we saw against Reading, and that dimension quickly folds up and tucks itself away. Because Debuchy lacks the recovery speed of Bellerin, he’s often less inclined to drive into extremely advanced areas, especially when just making his way back from injury. This creates a more static, solid presence on the right hand side. Less result, less risk.

Numerous times during the Reading match, Coquelin and Cazorla would look to the right and see…nothing. Aaron Ramsey loves moving inside and is very good at it, but has to be cognizant of the fact that when he stays on the interior of the pitch, it’s effectively limiting the width Arsenal can hope to achieve when triggering attacks.

Ramsey’s tendency to drift to the middle is a direct result of his success last year. He saw the most amount of time playing in a deep midfield role as part of a “2” in the 4-2-3-1 double pivot with Mikel Arteta. Arteta lingered providing defensive cover while Ramsey was free to move as a box-to-box midfielder with devastating effect. Success breeds confidence and when the Welshman drifts to the interior, it’s a physical manifestation of him searching for the comfortable.

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