As Arsenal secured fourth place at the end of last season there was one player who’s consistency was key without him claiming the headlines, Aaron Ramsey.
To date Ramsey is a player who’s career is noted for two reasons: suffering a horrific leg break in February 2010 whilst beginning to break into the Arsenal first team and also for being named his country’s youngest ever captain aged 20 years and 90 days old.
However last season Ramsey really staked a claim for a starting berth with the Gunners, becoming a vital part of the midfield and one of the team’s most consistent performers as Arsenal overhauled a seven point deficit held by rivals Tottenham to claim the league’s final Champions League qualification position.
Up until last season there were worries from certain sections of the Gunners’ fanbase who weren’t sure whether the Welshman would develop into the same player they envisaged he would have been had he not suffered from such an appalling injury that he did back in February 2010.
The man nicknamed Rambo though showed his quality and now must surely be considered as one of Arsene Wenger’s key men.
Ramsey brings energy and dynamism to the midfield. He is a box-to-box midfielder who does the simple things well, expertly well.
The Welshman has come along way over the past year, moving from a player who was largely considered just a squad player into a vital part of the side.
Rewind a year.
Not only were fans concerned that he would not develop into the player many hoped he would but many were frustrated with him.
When away on international duty Ramsey seemed to be a leader, leading his side from the front, but when back with Arsenal would struggle to assert himself.
This may have been due to his inability to be able to get a run in the team but also another factor was the player playing out of position.
Whilst players like Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri were at the club Ramsey struggled to get a starting berth but was also behind fellow youngster Jack Wilshere in the pecking order having to go out on loan to get first team football after his injury.
Even once Fabregas and Nasri had departed Ramsey could not get a place in the centre of midfield, having to be content with playing on the left wing at times last season.
Whilst playing wide Ramsey did not quite seem to fit in but after moving in a central role after the turn of the year Rambo showed exactly what he could do, performing for the Gunners in a similar way as he would whilst away on international duty.
He gave Wenger’s midfield the bite they had missed, his energy and tireless running complimenting his composed midfield partner Mikel Arteta perfectly.
Now having enjoyed a great spell in the first team, being a star performer along with the likes of Laurent Koscielny and Santi Cazorla, Ramsey could be set to enjoy his best season yet with an exceptional pre-season under his belt.
Ramsey could even start the season ahead of a certain Jack Wilshere, who was previously ahead of him in the pecking order.
Both bring bite and energy to the midfield although Wilshere is more likely to develop into a player who will play further forward.
The Welshman not only brings his technical attributes to the team but also is a player with unbelievable mental strength beyond his years.
Many have commented on the lack of mental strength within the Arsenal first team, especially with the club being unable to have won a trophy for eight years, but Ramsey is a player with an innate desire to win and extraordinary mental strength.
Aged just 22 this is player who has already suffered traumatic lows in his career.
Not only having to contend with an injury that could have deterred even the strongest of characters from making a full recovery but also having to deal with the tragic death of the man who made him captain of his country and his mentor: Gary Speed.
Having already captained his country you wouldn’t put it past this man to one day captain at club level either (and once more on the international stage having been stripped of the captaincy by current Wales manager Chris Coleman).
If indeed Arsenal are to have a successful, with the fans desperate to see an end to the club’s trophy drought, expect the Welshman to be at the heart of it.