Champions League

Has Wenger placed too much of the burden on this young but talented midfielder?

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Everyone remembers the horrific day on 27th February 2010 where a young and promising midfielder not only had his season cut short, but put his career in danger.  Welsh starlet Aaron Ramsey had his leg broken by Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross in a tumultuous game at the Britannia Stadium which had chilling reminders of Eduardo’s leg break at St Andrew’s in 2008.  The team went on to throw away their position in the title race and Ramsey was sorely missed as he had cemented his place in the squad and was starting regularly with his mentor and captain, Cesc Fabregas.

This obviously led to a prolonged period on the sidelines and a very challenging process of rehabilitation to try and get him back to his previous state of fitness as well as in the best possible mind-set to fulfil his potential and compete as Premier League level for Arsenal.  He had been starring in a fantastic Christmas and New Year period for the club and leading their title charge.  One of his best and most memorable games was a goalscoring and man of the match performance away at Portsmouth in December in which they won 4-0.

Following his £5 million move from Cardiff 18 months earlier, Ramsey had appeared more often than had been expected at such a young age but it had proven him correct in choosing Arsenal over Manchester United as he had moved to a club famed for blooding youngsters into the first team early in their career.   He even started the club’s first game after his arrival in the midst of an injury crisis prior to the Champions League qualifier away to FC Twente in August 2008.

However, the horror injury put a stop to his meteoric rise and angered many people throughout football who had seen one of Britain’s most promising footballers suffer such a severe setback that no-one could be 100% sure he would play again, let alone get back to the level he had been at and more.  Ramsey’s operation went well and he began the process of recovery which would eventually take 11 months and many hours of hard work.  But it has turned out to be well worth the effort and endurance after all.

After making his long-awaited comeback in November 2010 with a loan spell to Nottingham Forest, he started the long road to re-establishing himself as a key part of Arsenal’s first team squad again and trying to work his way into Arsene Wenger’s future plans.  However, due to severe weather, he made relatively few appearances for Forest during the spell and after two unused substitute appearances for the Gunners, went back to his boyhood club, Cardiff, for another confidence and fitness-building loan spell.

This proved very useful and effective for Ramsey in getting him back near the level he was at before the injury.  After appearing regularly, Arsenal rejected an offer for the Bluebirds to keep him until the end of the season and he returned to North London.

For the rest of the 2010-11 season, Ramsey featured frequently in an Arsenal team again fighting, but eventually failing, to win the title.  His crowning moment and proof of his full recovery came on the 1st May.  Arsenal had given up any chance of winning the title and had a depleted squad as Manchester United came to The Emirates.

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