Has Arsenal Found The New Patrick Vieira?

Arsenal’s rave of the moment is Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey. The former Cardiff prodigy was a big revelation for the Gunners in the just concluded season; scoring 17 goals ( 10 in the EPL and the all important one that sealed the FA Cup triumph). With his heroic performances during the season, he has been drawn favourable comparisms with former Arsenal legend and captain Patrick Viera. Since the Frenchman walked through the Arsenal door, the Gunners have been in search for the clone of the Frenchman. In Fabregas and Diaby, Arsenal have looked for Patrick Vieira’s replacement but neither have really fit the bill. Not owing to the absence of talent but down more to playing style and fitness.

Fabregas who stepped into the Frenchman’s shoes when he left for Juventus in 2005 is more of a playmaker than a box to box midfielder which was the role Viera monopolized during his Premier League foray. Diaby shares a similar built to Viera and his skills on the ball gives an impression that he might just be the perfect clone of his illustrious compatriot but persistent injuries have not given Diaby the chance to test the boots of Patrick Vieira and see if it fits.

In came the Welsh wonder Aaron Ramsey. He might just be Arsenal’s answer to Vieira. This season he proved to be as influential as the Frenchman was while at Arsenal. Before limping off injured, Arsenal were comfortably top of the league but by the time he returned after over 3 months out, Arsenal were scrambling for the 4th spot. Despite just returning from long lay-off, he still helped Arsenal seal a top 4 finish with some goals and assists. His snap volley also helped Arsenal win the FA Cup which was their first in 9 years.

Some people might say comparing Ramsey with Vieira is laughable but I don’t think so. Both men are adventurous and goalscoring box to box midfielders. Point of correction, Vieira was never a defensive midfielder whether at Arsenal or for France. At Arsenal, he had Petit at some point, later there were Parlour and Gilberto. For France, he had Petit and Makhalele. That is the same for Ramsey, he might out of enthusiasm want to play in the defensive midfield position but he is no defensive
midfielder. He is a rampaging box to box midfielder who is ready to latch on to passes to unleash screamers.

Another point of similarity is their tackling ability. Vieira though wasn’t a defensive midfielder, he was tenacious in tackles and his bulky frame helped him in this course. Ramsey is certainly not as bulky as the Frenchman and he is unlikely going to be. He looks like he is going to mature into a frame like Cabaye, Scholes and Xavi but not Vieira. Despite that, he never shy away from tackles and wins a fair share of it. Arsenal are rumoured to be in the market for a defensive midfielder. I agree we need that but if there is one player to play beside him, it is Ramsey. With him around, Arsenal have a willing body in the midfield and someone to chip in important goals when needed.

The Viera clones in Europe are Yaya Toure and Paul Pogba. These players are beyond Arsenal’s station but in Ramsey we have someone that can match them and hold him tight lest we loose him to the European hawks.