Happy new year one and all! I hope this finds you well, and not too hungover, especially as we have to wait until tomorrow for another dose of football. Anyway, let’s get straight to business. This morning I was reading an interview with Arsenal’s Alexandre Song. The Cameroonian midfielder has started to become an imposing presence for the Gunners this season. Wenger has been criticised in the past for failing to sign a ball-winning midfielder to counterweight the creative brilliance of Cesc Fabregas, and for selling Gilberto Silva and Lassana Diarra. However, it seems that in Song he has found the man ideally suited to protect his expansive back-four, exemplified by the Cameroonians man of the match performance at Fratton Park.
However, Wenger is now faced with a dilemma. After their potentially tricky away trip to the Boleyn Ground on Sunday, Song will fly to Angola to join the Cameroon squad for the taxing African Cup of Nations. With the Indomitable Lions one of the bookie’s favourites to reach the final, Song could potentially miss 5 crucial Premier League games, including away trips to the Reebok and Villa Park, and the visit of Manchester United to the Emirates. This, combined with injuries to Fabregas and Denilson, predictably leaves the Gunners somewhat short in the centre of the park. However, as the old cliché goes, as one door closes, so another opens.
The door I am referring to opens for a young Welsh centre-midfielder. Aaron Ramsey has shown with his 3 League goals this season that he is more than capable of contributing to the Arsenal cause both going forward and in defence, and the 2009 Welsh young player of the year is perhaps the most promising player to wear that particular shirt since Ryan Giggs. Like the Manchester United stalwart, Ramsey is predominantly left-footed, but capable of wonderful control on either side. And where better for him to be learning his trade than at Arsenal? In fact, it is unlikely that he would have been given the chance to impress under any manager other than Wenger, but this policy of the Frenchman’s, to put his faith in youth, has paid dividends time and again. And I would bet that the next 5 games without Song will be just the chance that Ramsey needs, and that we may see him further showing off these sort of talents, as seen at Portsmouth last Wednesday. He is, in fact, somewhat reminiscent of Fabregas when he burst onto the scene in 2003 - slight of frame, but talented on either foot and with an exceptional eye for a pass. Ramsey is slightly older than Cesc was when he arrived, but this will undoubtedly work in his favour, as the Arsenal captain was unique in his ability to adapt to first-team football so early in his life. I predict that Aaron Ramsey will not only emulate Fabregas’ achievements, but has the potential to surpass even his hero, Ryan Giggs.