Arsenal needed Aaron Ramsey to rescue them against Sheffield United and they got him. Only it came in the form of Dani Ceballos.
Arsenal‘s match against Sheffield United was certainly a stressful affair. Despite the early advantage, it was Sheffield who kept threatening in the box, winning header after header and having several goals ruled out due to offside.
In the end, it finally came back to bite the Gunners with an 87th-minute goal. The momentum had completely shifted and the 1-1 scoreline felt like one that would see Arsenal crumble late. They weren’t mustering much attacking prowess at that point and it was going to take a seriously inspired effort to change that.
We’ve seen those efforts in the FA Cup before. Against Hull City, for example. Or against Chelsea. But both of those had one thing in common—Aaron Ramsey. The Welsh wizard would slip in where you least expected him and provide the goal.
Problem is, we don’t have Ramsey anymore. Instead, Dani Ceballos provided that Ramsey-esque spark that we needed.
When the ball fell to Nicolas Pepe, you could have sworn he would be the hero, but his chance passed by, the ball rolled on harmlessly, and out of nowhere, Dani Ceballos came bolting from deep and drove the ball in from a tight angle. It was perfectly done. He read the play beautifully, saw his opportunity, and took it.
Ceballos only touched the ball 16 times. He had been pretty much silent up until that moment. But when the opportunity presented itself, he jumped on it and capitalized.
This is exactly what Ceballos was here to do in the first place. He was the Ramsey replacement, even if it was only ever going to be temporary. All year he has been woefully inconsistent, with me still harkening back to Burnley for his last convincing performance. This was way back at the start of the season.
This wasn’t that performance, obviously, but it was exactly what it needed to be. Out of nothing, something. That’s what Ramsey was known for. Even at his worst, he was still capable of anything, and Ceballos, who has been at his worst lately, proved capable of anything.
Of course, this might be the spark that lifts his performances before the end of the year, but regardless, let’s just appreciate it for what it was—a saving grace to push the Gunners into the semi-finals.