Opinion: Aaron Ramsey is a key player in Arsenal's new formation

Aaron Ramsey is a player who often divides opinion amongst Arsenal supporters. The 26-year-old is one of Arsenal's longest serving players, having joined the club from Cardiff in 2008.

He is often criticised for not being able to replicate the form he showed in 2013/14. In what was a breakthrough season for the Welsh international, he netted 16 goals in all competitions, including the winner in the 2014 FA Cup final.

Ramsey hasn't yet managed to hit those particular heights, but there are signs that he will once again become an influential player for his club side.

Traditionally, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger plays a 4-2-3-1 formation and seldom deviates from it. But due to The Gunners' poor form, the Frenchman changed things up and it appears as though Ramsey is reaping the benefits.

Free role for Ramsey?

Since Arsenal switched to a back three formation, Ramsey has often been partnered in central midfield alongside summer acquisition Granit Xhaka.

Xhaka is very much a deep lying playmaker. Responsible for collecting the ball from the centre backs, dictating the tempo of the game, and stopping opposition attacks when necessary.

Ahead of both Ramsey and Xhaka in this formation is Mesut Ozil, the team's primary creator. A traditional number ten who is tasked with manufacturing openings and providing ammunition for the forwards.

With that in mind, one may wonder exactly what Ramsey's role in this team is. In truth, he probably has the most difficult job, as he is required to contribute both defensively and offensively.

From a defensive standpoint, he must press the opposition and win as many tackles as possible. In attack he must be the link from midfield, the guy who gets the ball up the field as quickly as possible, as well as constantly making himself an option when not in possession.

To date, Ramsey has performed exceptionally well in this position, and he proved his importance to the team after being named Man of the Match in Arsenal's crunch game against Manchester United.

Arsenal's secret weapon

In addition to Ramsey's more obvious qualities - his passing range, his energy, and his dribbling - he also possesses fantastic movement off the ball.

This was evident in last weekends match, Ramsey was a thorn in the side for the United defence and was very unlucky not to have got on the scoresheet.

With the way Arsenal play, their midfielders are required to be comfortable with the ball and their feet, and so they often come short to receive a pass. However, Ramsey's movement off the ball poses a different kind of threat to the opposition, a threat that Arsenal will do well to utilise.

Ramsey has previously been branded selfish by the Arsenal faithful, due to his eye for goal and tendency to shoot when a pass may have been the wiser option. But Ramsey's direct style of play can only be beneficial to The Gunners- with players like Ozil and Xhaka in their ranks, the more targets they have to hit, the better.

Ramsey has an unpredictability to his game that few other Arsenal midfielders have. His tendency to break the mould and get in behind the opposition's defence could prove to be invaluable for the north-London club.

If Arsenal are to have a successful end to the season, the form of Aaron Ramsey may yet prove key. And with his previous in FA Cup finals, everyone connected with the club will no doubt be hoping lightning strikes twice at Wembley Stadium.

Watch this space.

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