Aaron Ramsey’s form is not only breathtaking but surprising. For the last few years, he has looked like he was just hanging in there. Now, his passing, his vision and his goal-scoring are all sensational.
Other players may try to lay claim to the title of ‘best player in the league’, but he has been nothing short of amazing this season.
Forget Mesut Ozil: Ramsey is Arsenal’s most important player at the moment. In fact, his importance can’t be underestimated. While Olivier Giroud is playing well, he is not prolific. Ramsey’s goalscoring threat has become integral to this side.
Ian Rush and Kevin Ratcliffe first told me about Ramsey some years ago. They said that he was a fantastic passer who saw things early - a sign of a great player. But, if I am honest, I hadn't seen that talent until now. With confidence flowing through him, he can only get better.
He could become as important to this side – if not more so – than Cesc Fabregas once was.
Obviously, that is dependent on him continuing this fine form. The goals and assists will invariably get the headlines but he works really hard and puts in the subtle, quiet defensive work. If he continues at this rate he will match Fabregas’s scoring record – it is a total surprise, but he looks exceptional.
His goal against Norwich on Saturday cemented his class. Pure class, measured by that composure. Previously he might have snatched at an effort like that but the way slalomed to goal and finished was superb – something to marvel at.
His rise is illustrative of the importance of confidence to a player’s make up. Obviously, firstly you need ability, but also reassurance from your manager, your team mates and the fans for you to show your best form. Confidence is probably 30% of the skill set of a football player.
Arsenal have never been short of quality players in midfield so Wenger must have seen something special in him in training on a daily basis. He has always persisted with him and credit must go to Wenger, but to the player too.
Sometimes players can produce majestic performances in training but struggle to replicate it on the pitch and that could be the case with Ramsey previously. Once you’ve done it on the pitch once, you grow as a player and begin to expect it of yourself.
While short of confidence, Ramsey hung in as a Premier League player but now he is peers with Ozil and Santi Cazorla, matching their performance level.
His experiences have stood him in good stead, too – the injuries, the fact that it didn’t all come too soon for him honed a mental strength that could see him progress to even greater heights. We just could be talking about this lad for the next ten years as a top, top class Premier League midfield player.
It is an incredible triumph for a country such as Wales to have produced Ramsey and Gareth Bale. Ramsey, like Bale before him, is starting to attract a worldwide audience and appreciation.
You can only be happy for the lad.