Scapegoats: defending Ramsey and Theo, again. (Originally) on YAMA)

Posted on May 10, 2012

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It’s become clear that fans tend to pick and choose who to blame for our hiccups throughout the season, sometimes it’s just out of ignorance, sometimes it’s out of frustration. In other instances, the ones laying the blame have an incredibly valid point.

This season – since Arshavin left – there have been two main scapegoats: Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott. They aren’t the roots of all that is evil and they aren’t a waste of wages. Yes, they’re inconsistent, but they aren’t going anywhere in a hurry so people need to learn to deal with their inconsistency and give them our full support. Their errors aren’t beyond repair, the pair are still young, and with the right guidance they’ll be massive players for us in the future.

I have defended young Theo in a previous article, and I stand by my decision to do so, but he does deserve criticism. Now, it may seem like I’m making excuses, but I’m not, this is just fact: For first half of the season Walcott’s performances were below-par, due to the absence of Bacary Sagna supporting him on the overlap. Whilst he receives a lot of criticism, Theo has also earned praise with his numerous assists (mainly for our man of the year, Robin van Persie). To be exact, Walcott has racked up eight league assists (and just as many goals) in his thirty-two starts this season. The only two players in the team who have more assists are van Persie (10) and Alex Song (9), who at times tends to attempt the incredible, and to be fair, it’s working for him.

Aaron Ramsey is a scapegoat because he regularly holds onto the ball to long and loses it, plus he’s a little inconsistent. Either that or he grinds our play to a halt. At times, slowing down the play can be a good thing. A perfect example of this is Barcelona’s Xavi. Now obviously it’s hard to compare Ramsey, a work in progress, to Xavi and his myriad of talents, but the point is valid.

Ramsey’s style seems to be slowing the play down, which, in the example I’ve already given, can be a positive. We all know Ramsey is a good passer of the ball, only Mertesacker (89.2%) and Arteta (90.8%) have a higher pass success percentage than Ramsey this season in the league. Well, technically Nico Yennaris (94.4%) and Sebastian Squillaci (100%) have a better percentage, but they’ve only made one sub appearance each so it doesn’t count. He also averages 1.7 key passes a game, a figure bettered only by Mikel Arteta and Van Persie. These key passes have also resulted in him earning four assists.

However, some would argue that statistics don’t mean anything. If you look at the way Ramsey passes the ball, there is a lot of side-to-side movement and backwards passing. It’s a small problem that can be mended with ease, it’s not as if he’s past his peak is he?

“Without my team-mates I could not have achieved it. For example Theo has given me more than 12 assists [over the last two seasons] and I do really appreciate that.”

Who said that? Van Persie, our PFA and FWA Player of the Year. So if he says they’re good enough then they certainly don’t deserve all the criticism and death-threats (Ramsey) that they’ve been receiving. Players like Ramsey and Walcott will only develop as players if they’re given the right guidance on and off the pitch. Booing them and wishing for their departure isn’t going to help, in fact, it only hinders their progress. Playing alongside such mature figures as Arteta and Van Persie, our “scapegoats” will flourish, and hopefully make the haters eat their words.

My last point is this: BRING ON THE OX.

People seem to think he is some kind of saviour, the kind of player who doesn’t even need to be on the pitch to intimidate the opposition. He’s good, but he’s not that good. He does however; deserve to be starting much more than he currently does. Bringing him on in the 80th minute when he won’t have enough time to influence the game isn’t really going to help him much is it, Arsene?

Nobody makes a scapegoat out of Chamberlain because he has shone in 90% of his games this season, as has Van Persie. It’s almost as if they’ve earned the right not be omitted from our list of scapegoats, even when they do have the odd dip in form.

For the last few games of the season, let’s just get behind everyone on the team and stay Goonerish!

Up the Arsenal.

All stats were via the excellent WhoScored.

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