Arsenal: Aaron Ramsey Needs To Stop Losing The Ball


Arsenal’s creative midfielder Aaron Ramsey prides himself on his passing ability, but this season the Welsh wizard has been a little careless with the ball.

Aaron Ramsey recently returned from injury and Arsenal fans were delighted with the immediate impact he had. After a rusty showing against Norwich in his first game back in the team, he played a crucial role in four straight wins for the Gunners, registering two goals and two assists in those four matches.

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His form – as well as Arsenal’s form – came to a screeching halt when they were thrashed 4-0 by Southampton. Ramsey was ineffectual against the Saints, and could do nothing to stop So’ton’s attacking efficiency. However, he did contribute to Arsenal’s poor possession play by gifting the ball to the Saints far more than he should.

In fact, Ramsey has been doing that for a while. The reason nobody has pointed it out is because while he has given the ball to the opposition, he has produced assists and provided a number of key passes to his team mates. If the latter does not come, the possession loss is extremely destructive and it must stop.

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To prove this claim, I designed a Squawka comparison matrix that pits Ramsey against four of his midfield team mates. Since the Welshman has played both a defensive central midfield role and a role further up the pitch in midfield, he is comparable to Coquelin and Flamini, as well as Cazorla and Ozil.

Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil are Ramsey’s fellow playmakers who have had big roles in the Arsenal team. Both players have misplaced fewer passes per game than Ramsey has: Cazorla misplaces 7.79 per game and Ozil misplaces 7.24, both lower than Ramsey’s 8.65 unsuccessful passes per match.

This stat would not matter so much if Ramsey made up for that inaccuracy with his key passing numbers. However, he is last in that category, too. Compared to Ozil’s 3.26 key passes per game and Cazorla’s 2.36 key passes per game, Ramsey registers just 1.5 every match.

Not only does Ramsey have worse passing stats than Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil, he also falls short when compared with the more defensive central midfielders, Francis Coquelin and Mathieu Flamini. Unsurprisingly, Flamini and Coquelin both have higher pass completion rates than Ramsey does. Coquelin is at 91% and Flamini at 89%, both above Ramsey at 87%.

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Squawka’s “possession score” takes into account things such as passes completed, as well as possession loss and key passes. Ozil and Cazorla both blow Ramsey out of the water, registering 16.76 and 19.22 per match ratings respectively. Even the two French defensive midfielders – who take far fewer touches than the Welshman does – beat Ramsey’s score. Flamini has a 7.66 per game possession score and Coquelin averages a score of 7.75 per game. Ramsey’s per match rating is a lowly 4.31.

Coquelin and Flamini both take fewer touches on the ball than Ramsey does, and they take their touches in lower-traffic areas. However, it is notable how few times they lose the ball in comparison to their British teammate.

In twelve appearances, Coquelin has only been dispossessed 11 times. Flamini, who is notoriously weaker than the Coq, has been dispossessed only three times in his nine Premier League appearances. Ramsey’s statistics are far different. In addition to being pushed off the ball 38 times in his 14 appearances – 2.71 times per game – he has also taken 28 unsuccessful touches.

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In conclusion, Aaron Ramsey must improve his efficiency while on the ball. Though he does provide key passes for his team mates and is able to control possession for his team, he is robbed by opposing players far too often and needs to improve his passing accuracy. Only when he accomplishes both of those things will he be taken seriously as a world-class central midfielder.