The Great Ramsey On The Right Debate

Today a post by regular contributor Eduardo which originally appeared in yesterday’s Comments section of PA.

Those with an agenda against Ramsey like to parrot the pundits and commentators who spout rubbish such as:

Ramsey unbalances the team ‘cos he moves central and [amazingly] to the left, during games.”

This one “soundbite” suggests that many don’t actually know:

1. What ‘team balance’ actually is.

2. What Wenger’s tactics are (despite AW actually having explained his exact thinking in playing Ramsey on the right of midfield).

3. That this is not something new from Wenger.

So let’s shed some light on all of this, starting with team balance.

The Ramsey haters, it seems, only do simplistic thinking. In their world, to have a balanced team you have to have the same sort of player on each side, doing the same things. Of course, this is only true from them when it actually suits their argument. They will therefore tell you we need one attacking fullback and one who stays back. One ball playing CB and one brute. One ball winning CM and one passer. And finally, up front, a big one and a little skilled one. But, for some unexplained reason, we need two line-hugging wide men, who only cut in to have a shot or get in to score. Thus the wide role is the only one where it’s yin and yin – no yang to be seen anywhere! I always knew they hadn’t a brain cell between them, but now I realize they don’t have a yang, either (explains a lot about their —– envy).

This brings me on to point number two – ignorance of Wenger’s tactics.

Well, in thinking about why the Ramsey Haters don’t actually know what Wenger’s tactics are, I would actually suggest that this is a deliberate act. This disingenuity reveals itself when you match up the Ramsey Haters with the Wenger Haters – it seems there is a massive overlap.

So Ramsey, it would appear, is merely collateral damage in the ongoing agenda they have against Arsene Wenger.

Anyway, back to what they fail to understand about Ramsey’s role and the tactics behind it. As stated in point 1, they think we need the same on the left and right of midfield, but that little tactic died a tragic death when 4-2-4 outgrew its usefulness. It was only a bit-part tactic when 4-4-2 was the norm. I don’t see any of the successful teams who use 4-2-3-1, actually using their wide midfielders in a rigid role. I don’t see any of them having similar players on opposite sides, either.

As I said earlier, it is a conscious act to seemingly not know what Wenger’s tactics are with Ramsey wide midfield. Its deliberate nature exposed by Wenger having, on multiple occasions explained the thinking behind it. And believe it or not, it’s all about team balance.

Wenger has explained that the reasons for selecting Ramsey wide midfield has many aspects, including:

a) Wanting someone who brings a different kind of game than Sanchez. Alexis takes on players, dribbles a lot, is more of a striker kind of wide man, whereas Aaron is more of a midfielder type – someone who will help support our central midfielders, especially when opponents put three players in there against our two.

b) Bellerin is a very attack minded fullback, and Ramsey’s game complements Hector’s game in two critical ways. Firstly, Ramsey has the discipline to track back and/or block opponents’ attacking lanes when Hector charges forward. Secondly, the fact that Ramsey moves infield also leaves the space for Hector to run into – that space is not only there because Ramsey is not, but often because opponents have also followed Ramsey infield.

c) Wenger has also explained that it’s a deliberate ploy to have Ramsey pop up on the left. AW wants to “overload” on that side. Opponents already have their hands full trying to plug the holes caused by Alexis and Ozil (and even Santi drifts that side), so in a way Ramsey going there too, is to ‘bust the dam’. Acknowledgement of Wenger’s explanation of Ramsey’s role by these critics has so far failed to materialise, as to do so would be tantamount to accepting that Arsene does, after all, do tactics!  And that would never do, now would it?

Finally, point number three – it’s not something new from Wenger.

And no I do not mean, as some like to claim, playing people out of position.

In fact, in his 19 years in charge, Wenger has by and large had different types of player on either side of midfield.

Consider who was on the right when we had Overmars on the left. He was STILL on the right when Pires showed up on our left. I’m talking about the type of player whom many of the AAA/WOB say we should have bought in the summer – a player that for me, Ramsey is most like in so many ways.

Of course, I’m talking about The Romford Pele himself, Ray Parlour.

Was there ever a more opposite player to both Overmars or Pires. Didn’t Parlour, just like Ramsey, drift infield, go box-to-box, but from a wide base?

Parlour was replaced on the right by Ljunberg. Although Freddie, as a player was dissimilar from Parlour, he still played a different role to Pires. He was the off-the-ball runner; he was the guy to get on the end of God’s and Pires passes.

Freddie, just like Ramsey, would pop up all over the place.

Pires and Ljunberg were replaced by Nasri and Hleb. I don’t think anyone would suggest that Nasri and Hleb had similar types of game or roles. Then Theo became our wide right player. Again we never had anyone similar to Theo on our left playing in games at the same time.

And the reason for that, just as it is now for having Ramsey on the right and Alexis on the left, is team balance, and of course tactics.

But don’t shout it too loudly, it might upset the moaners.

33 comments on “The Great Ramsey On The Right Debate

  1. A good job Eddy of taking apart the cult of Ramsey-must -play-central. From my reading it seems to be an obsession of pundits and the usual loud minority who write blogs and make the loudest noise on twitter. They are always writing of Arsenal’s demise while we consistently go about our business of being the most successful club in England based on our spending. Nothing new.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A great read, nice to get some proper perspective on an issue that seems to provoke way too much negative hype in some quarters. A manager like Wenger will always know exactly what he is doing with a player like Ramsey

    Liked by 2 people

  3. what thinking about a matter thoroughly instead of complaining for the same of it can actually produce…

    Very well written indeed1


  4. Great analysis Eduardo; especially appreciate the thread you’ve identified that has run throughout Arsene’s tenure with Arsenal.

    Just seen on Twitter via a pedanticgeorge retweet that Arteta is, far from being sluggishly past it, in fact one of the fastest in a league that comprises Walcott and Bellerin, to name just two!

    So, today we’ve learned Arsene does do tactics, what team balance really means and Arteta is still a viable, functioning football player.

    Who knew?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. @ArsenalAndrew

    We didn’t learn all of that today… just reinforced for the doubters


  6. thanks for the kind words.


  7. Flamini and Arteta are both out of our CL game tomorrow, but Coquelin has returned to training.

    Arsenal’s U19 UEFA Youth League game is live on Arsenal.com tomorrow, shows starts at 1.40 and kick off is at 2.


  8. so how is any of the midfielders in that Gareth crooks team of the week there ahead of OZIL?


  9. This article has added to my weekend of joy. Very well done, Edu.

    The whole Arsenal Tactics thingy has been a work of constant evolvement. Constant because (obviously), different or certain tactics are needed for various opponents.

    If memory serves, when Lauren arrived, Eboue was tried at right midfield.mit may be that EE27 was slightly limited in trying to play an all around right midfield role, but I stress, this isn’t a criticism of him.

    You may have seen over the last two seasons that the Ox has been tried at right forward, right midfield and even in the centre. Gnabry had spells on the right until the injuries hit. And of course, Theo contributed to the whole right side thing, massively.

    The fact is, Aaron’s a bit superman, as pointed out in a timely fashion by Fabregas long before his travels (and relative demise). Ramsey ends up at left forward positions, yes, but he’s back there intercepting the ball on the right – in defence. One could say that the players I’ve mentioned above are perhaps not quite so obviously prolific in their defending on Arsenal’s right? Again, no criticism intended. Indeed, Edu’s point (from our manager) is about BALANCE. (Which is something the negavista’s clearly lack).

    What Arsenal have is a team of intelligent footballers, who buy into Arsene’s philosophy of superb all around football, where there’s collective responsibility to carry out a game plan based on any individual match. AW has always avoided sharing the nth degree about the tactics, sensibly, as this would alert our opponents to his plans, and give the plundits even more excuses to trash talk anything Aresnal.

    Said plundits are reduced to urging other teams ‘get in our faces’ and ‘kick them to shit’.

    You know it!

    By the way, did anyone notice differences when Aaron didn’t play in a recent game, or when he was out for months last season? (Ditto, Özil and Giroud)?

    And what of Arsenal’s levels of fitness? With the end to end-ness of the Leicester-Arsenal game, which team looked clapped out? (Chelski always look clapped out against us).

    Win lose or draw, Arsenal invariably look better than the team they’re playing against.


    Liked by 2 people

  10. If Arsene, or any manager for that matter, tells player to do a job then they get on with it. There is the occasional half wit who announces ” I am not playing in position Y” or ” you must play me in position X”! Football is a team game, just do your f******* best. It may be some of our fans don’t really ‘get’ it.


  11. Team Spirit – I know we didn’t really learn all that today but the news that Arteta was one of the speediest players of the weekend was more than I could resist. I also felt Eddy shone a particularly bright light on the murky half-thoughts of the dim-wits incapable of ever understanding what is being served up on the pitch in front of them.

    The continued prominence of the nay-sayers is the only real disappointment of the season so far, so it’s good to read articles like the above, if only for the sake of sanity and common-sense.


  12. And now Arteta and Flanimi are both out! I told you we should of bought a CM in the transfer window. Wenger should of known this would happen.
    A. Dimwit


  13. Thanks Eduardo,
    For those of us who haven’t played football at at a decent level this article is absolute gold dust. Love the gentle way you explain it in ways the layperson can understand and learn from. As ever this space consoles and enthuses and informs. Can’t wait to get home and join in properly again.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Nicely put eddy.


  15. I’m repeating myself from the last post, but great stuff again Eddy.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It’s possible to have a fun debate over whether it’s Ramsey or Cazorla at CM/No.8.
    Was the gaffer thinking of Coquelin-Ramsey axis going into the first game against the Hammers? Will who plays next to Coquelin vary as Coquelin’s own game develops? Will Coqulein lose his place for a few months to Arteta, those few months this season where Arteta will be up to full fitness and sharpness? Or are they just going to rotate as we are seeing through the knocks and niggles?

    Interestingly Cazorla’s numbers at No.8 are better then the F Word’s. Hehe.

    Did not the younger Cazorla at Villareal under Pellegrini play ‘wide’ or ‘wide-ish’ (wide-o?) when we first encountered this great footballer (who’s starts ahead of the f Word for Spain, he he he) ? I could be wrong but if so it’s all a bit like Rambo then? So what’s the big beef? Rosbief?

    Is Cazorla just not big and powerful enough? Does the occasional shoulder barge pushing him off the ball drive some people so crazy that they just can’t cope regardless of everything else that happens on he the pitch and the result etc. is it truly a crazy concept of nationalism confused with an outdated football style that can not even be described as a national style (there are lots of clubs, lots of different styles…etc.) that is pushed or promoted by a clique? Let’s remember that Brain Clough, the inspiration for the game Football Manager, he was never made England manager.

    I don’t know.

    All I do know is I’d rather be hit on the head by a fridge then find myself agreeing with the kind of Brian Dead plundits used by the condescending broadcasters, caricatures like Steve Claridge or the more sinister & creepy incarnations like Savage, or Hall.
    When it comes to the footy I prefer to listen to the likes of Cruyff etc. over Claridge. Crazy. I know.


  17. Is Cazorla still adapting to No.8?
    Have we seen this seasons improvement for him in his Arteta-esque stabbing action sneaky tackles? I have that impression but it could be wrong, he looked like a combination of Makelele (wasn’t the biggest was he?) and Pirlo (not a giant) during that City game in January!


  18. Is he also trying out more turns and dribbles in the role?

    Yet again, I don’t know.

    But the movement, the combinations (with Özil and others out the back), the desire, the pass through to Walcott during that equalising goal on Saturday, it wasn’t bad was it!


  19. Cor.:

    It’s possible to have a fun debate…but probably not on twitter or blogs where they allow that small clique of sado masochistic trolls on in order to drop their screeds.


  20. Excellent post. Could not agree more.


  21. I think after slagging Aaron after his return from his injury many people just can’t admit they were wrong it’s as simple as that.
    Both Parlour and Ramsey are not wide right midfielders as the world and his wife keep insisting, they are on the right of central midfield. As Parlour used to tuck in when defending to create a defensive three it is also noticeable how many times Aaron retrieves the ball after our front three lose it.
    Parlour has spoke on the style more times than his wife took him to the cleaners however fans and pundits alike are conspicuous by their refusal to acknowledge not just ARSENAL but many teams over the years have used this system.
    Arsene has always like his teams to be fluid and this is a very efficient way of being very flexible.
    I have always wondered why channels, that pay loads of money for the right to show matches, make do with ex-pros that really have no more idea of modern systems and tactics than the average pisshead left in the pub after everyone else has gone to the game.

    Liked by 4 people

  22. ah the first installment of the PGMOL’s Dean revenge has been confirmed, Anthony Taylor has been confirmed as the referee for Arsenal’s match with Manchester United on Sunday


  23. Here is some heat map proof that 10% backs-up Eddy’s post.


    Liked by 1 person

  24. Oh good the first “victim of the referee” post and kick off six days away

    We can’t get Mossy every week Eddy – get over it


  25. Tell you what ….

    Let’s have a petition !!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. thanks edu for your time. and for explaining to the idiots the job my boy is doing in the team.
    wenger has always explain that the fact that we are a team that like to attack, we need a balance btween attacking and defending. that is the job of ramsey in the team. helping to keep possession hence reducing the risk of counter attack when attackers like alexis give the ball away. i’m so very happy this season because ransey is getting better every game because he understands the role better and he can only improve as the season progresses.
    edu, you forgot to mention eboue. unlike ramsey he give defensive balance by covering the right back but ramsey thrives in keeping possession.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. The only problem with that first link, DC, is that the author spends the last paragraph telling us why that setup is all wrong and why Wenger should sort out our lack of width. Which kind of misses the point he spent the whole article setting up. Bizarre.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I hadn’t seen this article before. Sorry if it’s been posted before.
    Pele, Costa “dirty”:



  29. its a shame giroud is suspended for tonight. i really hope walcott stays fit after the game because we need him against united on sunday. this was the reason i blame the management for sending some of our young strikers like akpom and sanogo on loan earlier before the deadline day. i know wenger was looking for a striker,but he should have maybe waited till the deadline.i’m especially sad about sanogo. because from the outset, the assistant coach at ajax has expresses concern about his usefulness in their team and from all indication, he is not being given fair playing time to really prove his worth. we could make use of him tonight and some other games. i remember his performance against bayern.


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