| 5.1°C Dublin

Ramsey talks up Gunners' title bid


Aaron Ramsey, centre, believes the current Arsenal squad is good enough to challenge for the Barclays Premier League title

Aaron Ramsey, centre, believes the current Arsenal squad is good enough to challenge for the Barclays Premier League title

Aaron Ramsey, centre, believes the current Arsenal squad is good enough to challenge for the Barclays Premier League title

Aaron Ramsey feels Arsenal are ready to build on FA Cup glory and challenge Chelsea for the Barclays Premier League title next season - even if they do not invest in summer reinforcements.

Ramsey says he does not expect that to happen - "every club brings in new faces and a few leave" - and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech and Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin are among those who have been constantly linked with summer moves to the Emirates Stadium.

But Wales playmaker Ramsey insists the current Arsenal squad is in rude health after winning the FA Cup for the second successive season last weekend.

"Even with this group of players now I believe if everyone was fit in the season we would have a great opportunity of competing for the Premier League," Ramsey said.

"This team has come on a lot over the last few years and if we can get off to a good start next season we will challenge.

"The club is in a good place where they can afford not to let players go, we're building on this team rather than seeing players leaving.

"It is a nice feeling and means that the group can stick together. The understanding is there already, so it can only get stronger."

Champions Chelsea finished 12 points clear of third-placed Arsenal, but the Gunners were the form team after Christmas and there is growing belief in north London that they can turn cup success into the club's first title triumph since 'The Invincibles' remained unbeaten in 2003-04.

Arsenal will also have the benefit of avoiding a Champions League qualification match in August and Ramsey believes going straight into the group stages of the competition will help Arsene Wenger's side hit the ground running.

"At the beginning of the season you're still getting your fitness levels up and those first few games are quite tough," said Ramsey, mindful that Arsenal have had tiring trips to Turkey at the start of the last two campaigns.

"If you sandwich a few Champions League fixtures in between them, that's maybe too much for certain players at that time of the season.

"So it's important to go through to the group stages without having that knock-out game to qualify.

"The good thing for us is not to have those games and hopefully that gets off to a very strong start."

Ramsey acknowledges he had a disrupted season because of injuries but he still managed 33 starts and 10 goals in all competitions, and Spanish champions Barcelona have reportedly been tracking him.

But the 24-year-old says he was frustrated by finishing the season out wide on the right rather than in his favoured central position - and admits he has spoken to Arsenal boss Wenger about it "a few times".

Ramsey will be restored to the centre for Wales' crunch Euro 2016 qualifier against Belgium in Cardiff next Friday and he feels that is where he can hurt opponents.

"It's where I play my best football and I'm very happy playing back in the middle for Wales," said Ramsey, who was talking at an event with Vauxhall, the Wales team sponsor.

"I had a chat with him (Wenger) a few times and he said it was temporary.

"But I can time my runs into the box better in the centre.

"When you're wide you're taught to try and get in at the far post so the ball doesn't go straight across, but from that central position you can use your instinct where to go.

"I know in pre-season I've got to work my socks off to get back in the centre.

"The manager felt he needed me out wide for the back part of last season and I've had an effect on games out there.

"But I'm looking to play in the centre and I'm confident in my ability that I can do that and win my place back there."

:: Astra. Made for Britain. In Britain. Vauxhall proud sponsor of the Wales team - for more news, views and football competitions go to www.vauxhallfootball.co.uk

PA Media