In the previous blog, AB wrote:
Rambo is the really interesting transfer conundrum for this summer, of our current squad. He looks the obvious player to sell if we need cash. I think he’s top class when fit. But he’s sure to be out for a spell each season. Do we stick or twist? Personally I’d stick. And focus what money we can spend on the defence. Jack looks a certainty to leave now in my view. I suspect that Wenger going takes with him the last prospect of an improved contract. I’m not sure I can see Jack take a competitive contract, for all his (genuine I believe) affection for the club. If both Jack and Rambo do go then we will have to buy more in the middle of the park. And how much would we need to spend to find equivalent quality? Unless we took a new manager and accepted a couple of years of transition building up around the kids. I don’t see it, however, as there would be even more noise from the “fan base” about that!
I was thinking along similar lines, but for me our game on Thursday is likely to become the pivotal test for both talents.
When you have been with Arsenal for so long as Jack and Aaron have been, there comes a time when you have to reach the summit; when you become more than a player on the pitch that does their job and start to lead the team instead. If you can get a few own-grown players to become top players, you can be in a very strong position for years to come. Arsene has done everything to get there with the Welshman and the Englishman, but it is fair to say that they both have let him down. There have been moments of greatness from both but we have not had a consistent level of domination on the pitch from either of them… as yet.
I have always felt that Jack is the more natural leader, but he is held back by his physical issues a lot. In the last few months, he has played somewhat below his normal level and this can only be caused by fitness/health issues. Is he holding back to remain fit for the WC and to get a new contract – he really cannot afford to get injured now, can he?! Or is he simply struggling fitness-wise? You tell me. On Thursday, we could see the Jack we (almost) all love: gunning on all cylinders and finding those beautiful passes and crosses against the strongest of defences we all know he is capable of. I thought he played v well and mature against Atletico last week, producing a peach of an assist and a couple of through-balls that deserved better finishes/anticipation by his teammates. Jack and the team need a great game on 3 May; it is time to (re)announce himself again.
The same goes for Aaron Ramsey. Once AR08 gets going, he is a brilliant force on the pitch. One of the best B2B midfielders in Europe imho. But he gets injured so often and then it takes ages for him to get going once more. At 27 he should now be leading the team, in the way Lampard and Gerrard used to do. Gerrard was not even 25 when he took on Milan on his own and won the CL for his team. How much longer do we have to wait to see Aaron reach his full potential?
Looking at Lampard, there is still hope for Aaron. The Chelsea ex-midfielder also had good years in his mid to late twenties, but it was in his early thirties when he really peaked by helping his team to win the CL.
Still, with just one year left and a new manager joining the club imminently, Ramsey has a great, and perhaps last, opportunity to have a Gerrardesque performance and help his team beat Atletico and reach the final of the UEFA Cup.
For both Jack and Aaron, this is the week to stand up and become Men in Full. Their own and the club’s destiny will be in their hands to a large extent. If they fail, I can see them both leave this summer; but if, together with the rest of the team, they succeed on Thursday, and then hopefully in the final too, I can see them both staying for the longer term.