As Aaron Ramsey slotted in Arsenal’s first goal with his left foot against Newcastle United, you wouldn’t have guessed that come the summer, he would be packing his bags and heading off to Turin to become a Juventus player.
The manner of his performances ever since that announcement has been thoroughly professional, and whilst Arsene Wenger would take credit for Ramsey’s ascension into Arsenal’s first team, it’s Unai Emery who may yet miss him going forward.
In Arsenal’s 2-0 win at a studious Emirates Stadium, Mesut Ozil was roaming, Sead Kolasinac was rampaging and Matteo Guendouzi was patrolling, but it was Ramsey who embodied the real Emery style. That determination to push forward with intent but also work hard off the ball, precision in the pass and in the shot, not afraid to make mistakes.
Ramsey enjoys the flick here and misunderstood decision there, but he always gives his all to the cause.
And although at times there was a playground feel about Arsenal’s use of the ball, growing in confidence with their anthem of attack and singing to its fluent beat, they have also found a way to show off Emery’s all-round work from back to front – nothing to ride home about just yet, but effective in generating positive results. Alexandre Lacazette put a lid on any Newcastle revival with a lob over the oncoming Martin Dúbravka, but it was Ramsey who really put in a shift.
You may ask if there’s still work to be done here, and to that the answer would be yes, that can’t be ignored. But Emery is making it all work, from leaving Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the bench from the start to persisting with playing the ball from the back, and in his own hands-on way Arsenal have found themselves above Tottenham Hotspur – yes, THAT Tottenham. The ones who were vying for the title with Manchester City and Liverpool, and have somehow found themselves relaxing on the beaches of Top Four Paradise with the other holidaying teams.
Such has been Emery’s good work that Arsenal have now won 10 Premier League matches at home in a row, and four in their last five overall. Yet, when they were schooled by City in their first game and narrowly defeated by Chelsea in the next, there were whispers of angst and uncertainty about how Emery would make Arsenal competitive at the top again.
But here we are, 31 games in, talking about bottlers and chokers, revolutions and new eras, from Poch to Ole at the wheel to Sarriball. Tottenham’s recent demise and Chelsea’s stale work has opened up that third Champions League spot, with Manchester United the form team to look out for going into the home stretch, though to keep Arsenal out of the equation would to undermine Emery’s hand signals, always directing and telling a story.
He is probably what Arsenal have needed for some time – a coach more than a manager, who’s more interested in the improvement of his players than the structure of the club. Of course, he would like some input into possible signings and outgoing players, but ultimately his talking is done on the pitch.
???? EMIRATES STAD10M ????
That’s now 10 home wins in a row for us in the @PremierLeague – for the first time since the 1997/98 season
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 1, 2019
It’s that attention to detail that eventually made Wenger obsolete to the demands of the modern game, and attractive to Arsenal’s eventual recruitment of Emery. Ramsey will leave, but someone will come in to do the same, or something similar – either won’t matter because Emery will find a way.
His involvement in each and every game leaves nothing to chance – if someone isn’t where he should be, he’ll make it known. If someone does something straight from the training ground, he’ll applaud like a proud headmaster at the district school awards. Those hands know exactly what they’re doing.
And as Ramsey came off due to injury – another possible reason for his exit from Arsenal – his job here was done. There may be some who think that Wenger was holding him back, suffering from the symptoms of an era that had run its course. But for Emery, he has been an interesting fit, finding his own style just when he’s about to leave Arsenal for good.
He may be missed more once he goes, but for now he will want to do his very best and show off what Emery is trying to do. It won’t do either any harm, and seeing that they’re third now, let the Emery coaching handy work continue. 63 points and counting.