Saturday 24 February 2018

Some ecstasy follows agony for Ramsey as midfielder produces 'top gun' display

Swansea City 1 Arsenal 2

Graham Clutton

It has been 1,310 days since the precocious Welshman Aaron Ramsey was left almost unconscious after a tackle from Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross left him nursing multiple fractures to his tibia and fibula.

In between that fateful afternoon at the Britannia Stadium and the beginning of this season, the now 22-year-old Ramsey not only relived the nightmare of a tackle that shattered his lower leg, but spent many a dark day deliberating over his future and wondering whether he would rediscover the huge potential that shone through in his early years.

On Saturday, less than 50 miles from his birthplace in the Welsh rugby hotbed of Caerphilly, the stand-out performer and joint-leading scorer in this season's Premier League, provided further confirmation that his desperate times are finally behind him.

A sublime assist for Serge Gnabry's first goal in Arsenal colours, two minutes before the hour, preceded his fourth league goal of the season and an eighth in all competitions.

Little wonder, therefore, that midfield partner Jack Wilshere spent his post-match interview predicting a glittering future for the Welsh international. "If he carries on playing the way he is and working hard, he can improve further," said Wilshere.

"Aaron got a great appetite for the game and he wants to improve all the time. He's fit, he's young and he's showing his best form."

Although £42m German midfielder Mesut Ozil provided fascinating moments, Ramsey was by far the game's best player. His passing off either foot was exemplary, his movement exquisite and his goal simply irresistible.

Wilshere said: "His fitness levels are not normal. He's naturally so fit he can score at any time. He's pushing on in the 94th minute trying to get another. Not many players can do that. And the great thing is that he's got all his confidence back.

"His injury was different to mine. I can't remember a moment when I got injured, where I got kicked and thought: 'Oh God!' He can remember that horror tackle and that might have stayed in his mind. For a year, if you're going into a 50-50 tackle, it's in the back of your mind. He's over that now and is a key player for us."

Arsenal were less than impressive in a first half of few chances. Jonjo Shelvey had Swansea's best opportunity, while Olivier Giroud shot wide when put through by Gnabry.

Thereafter, it was a different story. Ramsey's delightful reverse pass to Gnabry led to the German youngster beating Michel Vorm and after Ozil had been denied by the Dutch 'keeper, Giroud and Wilshere combined in the 62nd minute to set up Ramsey for his fourth goal in as many games.

Wilshere said: "It's nice to look at the table and be top, but it's only a good start. We want to be top for the international break and again at the end of the season.

"We woke up after losing to Aston Villa. Momentum is key in this league. You saw today that Man United and Man City slipped up. Before, when they lost, we lost. But today we were able to capitalise."

Vorm, the Swansea 'keeper, said: "It was a similar situation to the Manchester United game where they scored two goals in quick time.

"If you don't concentrate 100pc, you will get punished. But we won't change our style or approach – it's the only way we know. We didn't create many chances today."

Ben Davies did snatch an 82nd-minute consolation goal, but it was too little too late. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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