Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey happy in centre
Midfielder Aaron Ramsey is glad to have won over the Arsenal boo-boys as he looks to help drive the Gunners into the Champions League again next season.
The Wales international, 22, has impressed in recent weeks as he thrives in his preferred central role at the heartbeat of Arsene Wenger’s side, with England’s Jack Wilshere coming back from an ankle injury.
It is a welcome run of consistency for Ramsey, who was often deployed as a utility man by Wenger in the last campaign, which saw him split opinion among supporters.
Ramsey’s progress following a £5million move from Cardiff in 2008 was halted by a sickening double leg break after a challenge by Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross in a Barclays Premier League game at the Britannia Stadium three years ago, which left him ruled out for nine months.
Now, though, the combative midfielder believes he is making up for lost time.
“Last season was frustrating for me. I had a bit of stick, but I was not playing in my main position and had obviously been through a lot,” Ramsey said in the May edition of the official Arsenal magazine.
“I think people are starting to realise now that I am coming back, looking sharp again – and there is no better feeling than winning people over, proving you are capable of doing a good job and you are a good player.
“I am confident in myself and think I can push on to the next level now.”
Ramsey’s drive helped secure a battling 1-1 draw against Premier League champions Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium last weekend, which extended Arsenal’s unbeaten league run to seven matches.
There can be no let-up in performance levels when they head to relegated QPR if they are to stay in the top four, after they dropped behind Chelsea. Arsenal are, however, still two points ahead of Tottenham, although they have played one game more.
The Gunners head to Loftus Road for Saturday’s late afternoon kick-off without 17-goal striker Olivier Giroud, who serves the second game of a three-match ban..
Despite another season without winning any silverware, midfielder Santi Cazorla feels there is no reason Arsenal cannot challenge for honours again if they can deliver performances like they did against United on a more regular basis next season.
He said on Arsenal Player: “What I have taken from this year is that as a team we were not very consistent for half of the season, which cost us in terms of reaching the higher positions in the league.
“Now we are a lot more consistent and that is the form we were lacking before – being consistent and getting the three points whenever we could.
“We are a long way off the top because of this lack of form, even though it was only for half the season.
“I hope next year will be another story. We want to be fighting for the Premier League and all the tournaments we enter.”
Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has played down reports in the French press that Wenger is set to leave for Paris St Germain in the summer as “complete nonsense”, insisting the Gunners boss is as “happy as Larry” at the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger is set to dip into the club’s bumper £100million cash reserves in a bid to strengthen the squad for next season.
However, some tension remains from second largest shareholder Alisher Usmanov, who does not yet have a seat on the board.
The Usbek tycoon, who moved to the top of the 2013 Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated fortune of £13.3billion, remains frustrated that the Gunners are not challenging for top honours.
Usmanov, whose Red & White Holdings group own just shy of a 30% stake in Arsenal’s parent company, feels owner Stan Kroenke would be content should the team go on to secure fourth place, and with it another crack at the Champions League next season.