Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Thursday December 4 2008
With the Gunners yet again enduring such a topsy turvy month, it`s no use prevaricating, once again there has been no clear contender for Player of the Month. As with August and October, it is incredibly difficult to pick out one player who has performed consistently well. One look at our results, losses to Villa, Stoke and Man City and victories over United and Chelsea elucidate our infuriating inconsistency. Injuries and suspension have also taken their toll seeing us play an unsettled side in November. One peak at the arsenal.com player of the month points to the paucity of candidates, Robin van Persie was the victor, he was a brief substitute against Stoke on the 1st November before being sent off and serving a subsequent three match ban and he played in neither of our Carling Cup games. So he has played in less than half of our matches this month. Therefore I was left with two candidates. The first is Gael Clichy, who has been consistent when all around him have not and after his massive error against Spurs in October, his reaction has been exemplary. He even managed his first Arsenal goal; unfortunately it was shrouded in the inauspicious surroundings of a miserable defeat at Stoke. He was also allegedly very close to being named Arsenal captain. William Gallas has had a decent month on the pitch, but this sort of caveat would be inappropriate given some highly publicised shenanigans. I also think Denilson has had a half decent time of it. But given the paucity of candidates, I`ve gone for a different vibe this month and peered into the crystal ball slightly.
One of the highlights of the month had to be the youngsters dismantling Wigan Athletic at the Grove and it is a pivotal member of that side who I have earmarked. Following on from the demoralising surrender to Stoke City, the Gunners faced Fenerbahce at home in Matchday 4 of the Champions League. A surprising selection that night saw Aaron Ramsey play on the right wing. He applied himself with great enthusiasm, popping up all over the pitch to receive the ball and becoming involved in dangerous positions. At the tender age of 17, he was walking into the highest level of football available, showing no fear and looking completely at ease. It was in stark contrast to the timid performance in the infancy of his Arsenal career away at Twente in the Qualifying Rounds. He was replaced after an hour having put in a thoroughly decent night`s work. Six days later Wigan came to the Grove and Ramsey absolutely ran the show, constantly pleading for possession, bringing others into play and generally making the team tick over. It was a display of authority; a game in which he cherished the responsibility of being the side`s pivot and in a very impressive team display, Ramsey was the jewel in the crown.
Ramsey was also the sole bright point of a miserable afternoon in Manchester, with all around him having given up the ghost at 2-0 down, Ramsey came on for Gavin Hoyte and showed the desire and spark to try and wrest something from the game. Unfortunately, few of his colleagues matched his desire. He was rewarded that Tuesday night with another starting berth on the right for the home game with Dynamo Kyiv and again showed no compunction about taking responsibility in a tense Champions League encounter. Ramsey is a young player who has a lot of talent, like any number of young players out there. But what seems to set him apart is his desire to have the ball at his feet, he can overplay at times but that is to be expected from a 17 year old. This month has seen him nascently blended into the first team a little more and he has been entirely unphased. Arsene doesn`t need me to tell him how to develop a young player, but I`m sure we`ll, correctly, see Ramsey continue to be slowly amalgamated into the side and next season will see him try and push to the next level. This month has also seen him called up for the senior Wales side. The initial signs are incredibly positive, he has won most of the supporters over in his fleeting appearances and it`s not so hard to see why we had to compete for his signature so profusely.LD.
Date:Thursday December 4 2008
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