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In Arsenal’s recent games against Chelsea and Manchester United, Unai Emery has deployed Aaron Ramsey in a kind of pressing No. 10 role.
In the win over the Blues, Ramsey’s discipline in this role allowed him to minimise the effect Jorginho could have on the game for Chelsea, and despite falling to defeat against United, Ramsey was impressive once again.
However, given that the Welshman is set to leave the Emirates Stadium at the end of this season after ten years in north London, Emery must find a way to be less reliant upon the 28-year-old’s attributes.
On the chalkboard
Ramsey’s supremely high levels of energy and stamina make him a perfect fit for this hybrid midfield/forward role in Emery’s side. Ramsey is able to maintain the aggressive pressing that the Spanish coach favours, whilst he is also good in possession and capable of breaking beyond the forwards effectively to create goalscoring opportunities for himself and other
In this position, Ramsey acts as a bridge between the Gunners’ strike force – generally made up of the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Alex Iwobi – and the more defensively-minded midfield contingent, typically featuring stars like Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi.
With Ramsey set to depart though, Emery must find an alternative way of making his side function, without relying upon the number 8.
An opportunity for Iwobi
As an internal solution, Iwobi is perhaps the likeliest candidate to replicate Ramsey’s impact in his absence.
The 22-year-old academy product is by no means the finished article, but he has the pace, power and work ethic to harry and press opponents. His end product, decision-making and consistency must improve, but the 21-cap Nigeria international has already taken great strides forward in his game under Emery and deserves this chance to make himself a vital part of the Gunners’ starting XI.
Iwobi often takes a lot of stick from the Emirates faithful, and fans are desperate to see some fresh faces in the squad if not this month then in the summer, but Emery may well have his Ramsey replacement right under his nose.