by Chris Stoneadge
Arsenal 1–1 Brighton. The last game at the Emirates for the 2018/19 season, the first in the Premier League since 1995 which ended without Arsène Wenger in charge.
Although there haven’t been drastic changes in style or league position, there seems to be underlying changes in the infrastructure in North London.
The most notable change, of course, came today as three influential players in the squad leave on a free, or in Petr Cech’s case, retire.
Danny Welbeck has never set the world alight anywhere in his career, but his commitment to the cause for the Gunners’ badge has been very credible since his 2014 arrival from Manchester United. And he was so unlucky with injuries halting what could have been a great career. He will be missed off the field more than on it sadly.
Cech himself has proven to be a valuable member of the squad since joining from Chelsea in 2015. After being displaced by Thibaut Courtois at Chelsea, the Czech international finished eight places above his previous employers in his first season with the club. They’ve finished below them each season since, but that’s not to Cech’s detriment. Although his ability has wilted in the past year or so, he still is a competent ‘keeper at this level. Happy retirement Petr!
And rumours swirl about the release of a single with Peter Taylor, what a coup for him! Although Petr, we have seen the disasterclass of Waddle and Hoddle on the musical stage. Maybe steer clear!
And the biggest cheer from the Arsenal crowd, who witnessed the triad receive awards for their service, came for Aaron Ramsey.
“One Aaron Ramsey, there’s only one Aaron Ramsey!”
There is, Gunners’ fans. And unfortunately he’s heading to Serie A.
After eleven years of dedication to Arsenal Football Club, the Welshman leaves for Juventus on a Bosman contract deal apparently worth around £400,000 a week to him.
You can see his love for the club. You can see his passion for the Premier League. But what could they have done to match or attract the mouth-watering deal on the table from the Old Lady, to keep Ramsey’s name among their elite?
Arsenal are a rich club. Surely they can afford to pay arguably their best midfielder at least £250,000 a week to avoid a contract dispute? And if not, they can offload Mesut Ozil, who in comparison to Ramsey does little to nothing. He earns £300,000+ a week. Crazy money.
It portrays a lack of ambition from the board though, and a lack of backing for the manager. Unai Emery needs all the help he can get from his offensive players as his defensive ones haven’t been up to scratch this season. Hopefully from the wage space Ramsey’s departure has freed up, they can secure a top class central defender.
Ramsey will leave behind a hole in the squad which few players can fill. Having arrived as a boy in 2008 from Cardiff City, he leaves as a man. And a cracking footballer too.
Ramsey will be most fondly remembered with the Gunners not only for his three F.A. Cup trophies, but for astounding 2013/14 season in which he bagged 16 goals in 34 appearances in all competition, mirroring the goalscoring form of a prolific striker let alone a box-to-box midfielder.
That season he began well, scoring 13 in 21 for club and country, then picking up a vile injury in which he was sidelined for the best part of five months.
He returned for an F.A. Cup Final, against minnows Hull, in which he stole the show. Arsenal went 2–0 down early on through strikes from James Chester and Curtis Davies. Santi Cazorla and Laurent Koscielny levelled proceedings at full time, before Rambo blasted home eleven minutes from time to secure Arsenal’s first trophy in nine years.
So with Ramsey leaving Arsenal have issues of their own to sort out. But the Welshman has an exciting future ahead in a new country, a new scenario, a new squad, which is more than promising for him.
However, it’s not as easy as he may think, however much money he’s on, to cause change in an already stacked Juve midfield.
Blaise Matuidi, Emre Can, Sami Khedira, Rodrigo Bentancur and Miralem Pjanic to name a few, Ramsey will slot perfectly into a rotation role unless he stamps his authority on the Old Lady team sheet early doors. And that’s not what he’s going out there to do.
Whatever happens for Ramsey, he will always be able to say that he has played with Cristiano Ronaldo. That must have been a pulling factor for sure.
Injury preventing, Ramsey will succeed. Arsenal will certainly miss him. Who would you replace him with?