Tuesday 25 June 2019

Ozil to fill key Gunners role in absence of 'fighter' Ramsey

After spending much of the season on the sidelines, Mesut Ozil has started eight of the past 10 matches for which he has been available. Photo: Reuters/Paul Childs
After spending much of the season on the sidelines, Mesut Ozil has started eight of the past 10 matches for which he has been available. Photo: Reuters/Paul Childs

Sam Dean

Laurent Koscielny has hailed the departing Aaron Ramsey for showing a professionalism and a fighting spirit that some of his former Arsenal team-mates have lacked.

Ramsey, who will join Juventus on a free transfer this summer, will not play for Arsenal again after further tests revealed his hamstring injury to be far worse than feared.

His absence from both legs of Arsenal's Europa League semi-final against Valencia is a considerable blow for Unai Emery, who must find a way to end an alarming run of three consecutive defeats without his most dynamic midfielder.

Arsenal are now working alongside medical staff at Juventus in treating Ramsey, with the hope of ensuring the Welshman is fit enough to start pre-season in Italy as planned.

"What I like about Aaron is that we know he signs for Juventus but he is still a professional and he always fights for the club and for the team," said Koscielny, the club captain.

"Sometimes you have players who have stopped fighting for this team, but I think he has loved this club and that is why he stayed at 100pc for us. It shows a great mentality and character."

Ramsey has been one of the star performers of Arsenal's Europa League run, with Emery describing the midfielder as "awesome" following their 2-0 home victory over Napoli in the previous round.

It was in the second leg of that tie, in Naples, that Ramsey limped off the pitch clutching his hamstring.

Arsenal will hold a guard of honour for Ramsey and retiring goalkeeper Petr Cech on Sunday, when they face Brighton in their final home game of the season.

"It saddens me to say that the game against Napoli was my last game in an Arsenal shirt," Ramsey wrote on Instagram.

"Unfortunately it's out of my hands but I wanted to say thank you to the fans for your support. It has been a journey, on and off the field, and so much has happened in 11 years.

"I was a spotty young kid coming in and I'm leaving a man, married, father of three boys and full of pride and good memories that I will treasure. It will be emotional this weekend - my last game at home."

In Ramsey's absence, Mesut Ozil will be expected to provide the creativity in the Arsenal attack.

Ozil missed Sunday's defeat at Leicester City because of a foot injury but is likely to start at the Emirates tonight.

Spending

After spending much of the season on the sidelines, the German has started eight of the past 10 matches for which he has been available, after convincing Emery of his worth, particularly in home matches.

Winning the Europa League appears to be Arsenal's best opportunity of reaching next season's Champions League, although Valencia are likely to be tough opponents.

The Spanish side are sixth in La Liga, three points off the top four, and will be familiar opponents for Emery, who managed the club between 2008 and 2012.

It will also be a significant occasion for Koscielny, who ruptured his Achilles against Atletico Madrid at the same stage of the Europa League last season. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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