Arsenal FanZoner JC hails the impact the usually unheralded Gervinho, Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky are having on the in-form Gunners.
I was sitting in a pub, after the game against West Brom on Saturday, when my mate turned to me and said: "Arsenal are finding heroes in the least likely of places" (or something to that effect). He had a point. Gervinho had put in another good shift, constantly causing the Baggies defence problems with his twisting and turning, and bagged a third assist in eight days. Often the byword for anything and everything wrong with Arsenal, the idiosyncratic Ivorian deserves the praise he is getting for his recent purple patch. As I've said before though, let's not get ahead of ourselves and start proclaiming that he is the answer to all our problems.
Much like this Arsenal team, Gervinho has some very obvious pitfalls. But, much like this Arsenal team, he is enjoying a late season charge of good form. Aaron Ramsey is another name that springs to mind. The recipient (and quite rightly so) of praise from Steve Bould recently, the Welshmen has often been the victim of, what I think to be unjust, abuse from sections of the Arsenal faithful. Definitely not helped by a broken leg at such a young age, and then having to step into the void left by Cesc Fabregas in his first full season back from injury, Ramsey's name is often greeted with grumbles and moans when it appears on the team sheet. Recently, though, playing in a slightly deeper role in midfield, he has excelled. The haters will undoubtable still point to moments of wastefulness, such as the chance that went begging against the Baggies, but I would say to focus on such things would be terribly unfair. Ramsey has never been anything less than professional, and his effort can never be in question. He is always one of the players to run himself into the ground for the Arsenal cause. Such determination and passion should be applauded on a more regular basis.
Those two, coupled with the whole team defending much better, certainly attest to us finding our heroes in unlikely places. But they, strangely, weren't the main subject of my friend's declaration. For him, it was Tomas Rosicky. Now I fully believe Rosicky has been instrumental for us recently, but I find the notion that he is an unlikely hero to be somewhat strange. Yes, he is no Jack Wilshere, or Santi Cazorla, that much is clear. But really this is a case of lightning striking twice. I have been a fan of the little Mozart ever since he scored that belter against Hamburg in 2006. Unfortunately, injuries have severely hindered not only his impact on the Arsenal teams over the years, but also his development as a player. When I look at the Czech in red and white, there is always a feeling of 'what if'. With that being said, his current impact on the Arsenal team should hardly be surprising. Lest we forget his talismanic role in the run in last season. Post-match Arsene Wenger echoed such views of the playmaker's impact in the latter stages of seasons, and went on to express his hope that Rosicky would see out his career at the Emirates. "I rate him that highly," he concluded. He must, considering the last player that I can remember retiring at Arsenal would be Dennis Bergkamp. Though some may argue that that would not be the case if Arsenal were able to hold onto their star players (such as Fabregas, Ashley Cole, Samir Nasri, and Robin van Persie), we should not forget that players of the quality of Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg and Gilberto were all willingly sold years before they decided to hang up their boots. The performances of players such as Rosicky, Ramsey and Gervinho mean that when Wilshere and Walcott are available again, for the Norwich game, their place in the starting XI is not guaranteed.
That is a good problem for Wenger to have, especially at this late stage of the season, with everything still to play for.