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Wenger: Ramsey presence is massive

Arsene Wenger is hoping the "massive" presence of Aaron Ramsey can help keep Arsenal top of the Premier League when he returns to former club Cardiff tomorrow.

Wales international Ramsey is enjoying a stand-out campaign, having scored 11 goals for the Gunners.

The Caerphilly-born 22-year-old has come a long way since leaving south Wales as a raw talent in a £5million deal during the summer of 2008 – with Cardiff manager Malky Mackay describing Ramsey as "one of the best performers in Europe" on current form.

Wenger hopes Ramsey will continue to relish his role at the heartbeat of the side.

"Aaron (Ramsey) has first a fantastic engine. I believe his defensive awareness has improved, his defensive qualities have improved and his defensive score is very strong now," Wenger said.

"After that he has a huge desire to play every single ball. He wins the 50:50s – that was not the case a year ago.

"If you let him, he takes the ball at the back, passes to himself in midfield and passes to himself up front because he wants the ball so much.

"That is why his presence is so massive in a game."

England midfielder Jack Wilshere was among the goals as his brace helped sink Marseille 2-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday to move Wenger's team to within touching distance of the knockout stages.

"It demands vision, it demands calmness, it demands quality execution and he had all that in that goal. I would say his (first goal was) absolutely stunning," said Wenger.

"I must say I was even surprised by the way he took that goal. That shows his belief in his finishing has gone up a lot."

Meanwhile, Arsenal confirmed the news former captain and assistant manager Pat Rice was in hospital receiving treatment for cancer.