Who's the next Gerrard—Ramsey or Ox?

First things first, I have to start off by saying that I’m not a big fan of the “he’s the next _______” routine. On the other hand, I don’t quite like the equally trite “he’s not the next _______; he’s himself” retort. However, when others in the know start offering comparisons, it’s hard not to get drawn in to t and to consider the possibilities. It was back in January that Arsène compared the Ox favorably to Steven Gerrard, and we’ve since seen Ox play through the middle on a few occasions to good effect, whether it was scoring a brace against Crystal Palace or slicing deep into Bayern’s defense time and again. Now, we have Ray Parlour, no slouch of a middie himself, comparing Aaron Ramsey to Gerrard. We surely can’t have two Gerrards, can we?

Anything you can do, I can do better…

However, as Arteta and Flamini age, the club will have to consider its options for the defensive midfield. Both Ramsey and, to a lesser extent, Ox have shown that they can flourish playing the box-to-box role. Ramsey, after all, has tallied 13 goals and seven assists from the deep-lying position. Ox, having missed most of the season to this point, has managed three goals and two assists, but the assessments of Arsène and Parlour are perhaps more pertinent than the stats.

Back in January, Arsène said of Ox, “He has a good long ball, penetration from deep, and a good quality to distribute and penetrate individually. Certainly he has the same qualities to Steven Gerrard.” Having played from the wing for most of his time at Arsenal, it’s easy to forget that he was brought in from Southampton to play centrally in the first place, although higher up the pitch as an attacker. It’s only been more recently—since January, in fact—that we’ve seen him play through the middle and as deep as the defensive midfield. Each time he’s done it, he’s delivered—the aforementioned brace against Crystal Palace, the dribbling display he put on against Bayern, the “assist” against Spuds. The sample-size is small, but the qualities he’s known for—directness, penetration, pace—have been front and center each time out. For as much as we might crave his pace on the wing to run in behind defenders, he may just be at his best attacking the heart of a defense.

Not to be outdone, Ramsey has drawn plaudits of his own from club legend Ray Parlour, who wrote, “Aaron Ramsey can become as influential as Steven Gerrard. Gerrard was the best player I have ever faced…Ramsey was the perfect box-to-box midfielder in the first half of the season and I always said if he could score a few more, he would be complete.” Well, perfect is a strong word to use, but if Parlour has any say in it, Ramsey is both perfect and complete. Done and dusted. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you—well, I guess I should expand. Ramsey may not be perfect, but he’s been nothing short of a revelation in that first half, scoring, assisting, orchestrating…if it weren’t for the injury, he might have been in the conversation for Player of the Season. For the Prem, that is, not just for Arsenal.

As delicious as it might be to imagine a midfield that consists of Ramsey and Ox bombing forward from deep, it begs the question of who would stay home to mind the defensive side of things. Ramsey might be more of a box-to-box player, as evinced by his team-leading 3.7 tackles per game, but do either he or Ox possess the inclination to commit to the defensive responsibilities that come with playing in front of the back four? For as much as we might lament the Arteta-Flamini pivot for lacking a forward-thinking element, we might come to regret a Ramsey-Ox pairing for opposite reasons. Then again, the dual threat they might pose as counter-attackers might make opposing teams that much more cautious about pressing up the pitch for fear of one of them taking the ball and marauding back upfield to score. After all, they’ve started doing so already. With Ramsey coming back soon, we might get a chance to see what the two of them can do when paired together.

As I started out by saying, I don’t like to talk of current players in terms of who’s the next so-and-so, but if we’re going to do it, we might as well keep it in-house. Between the two of them, Ox might more-closely resemble Vieira when it comes to those blistering runs upfield; Ramsey might more-closely resemble him for his grit and eagerness to go in for a tackle. If there’s a way to find room for them together on the pitch, forging a balance between defense and attack, so much the better!

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6 thoughts on “Who's the next Gerrard—Ramsey or Ox?

  1. Anonymous

    John, I'm going to be straight with you. If the gaffer can get this working like you have just described I might go into some kind of apoplectic shock excitement. I'm talking MJ level here! Imagine watching the Arsenal bomb on and apply pressure from the first whistle with these boys weaving in from deep! Santi and Ozil playing no look passes off the frame of the goal onto the instep of Ramsey, chipped passes being hit first time on the half-volley by the Ox striking the underside of the crossbar and in!I'm obviously over excited here, but hey, these players make me dream. That is why I love the game.Love the blog man. #ArseneknowsP.S. Let's see that FA Cup in red and white!

  2. Anonymous

    an Ox-Rambo pivot if they can get it sorted could be something brilliant! they've both some height to them but could maybe add some brawn, but not too much that they lose speed. with ramsey learning a lot from arteta and then flamini about defensive responsibility he might be the one to commit more to defense, but remember ox also played closer to the vest in the first halfs when he was DM. rather than one playing back and the other pressing forward, alternating roles might be where its at!

  3. Anonymous

    if Gerrard's model of consistency (staying with the club for his career) is a model, then by all means I hope both Ox and Rambo emulate him. I know they've each already switched clubs once, but they're committing their short-term futures to Arsenal and I hope we're still celebrating them a decade from now.

  4. Anonymous

    we might be dreaming, but the reality is that both men, when they're fit, are as exciting and dynamic as anyone else around. Let's see if we can get a smash-n-grab at Stamford Bridge to open up the Prem AND seize the FA Cup while we're at it!Thanks for the visit!

  5. Anonymous

    let's hope Ox and Rambo leave aside Mr. Gerrard's own personal trophy drought (no offense intended, great player) and drive Arsenal to the double this year. There's still a chance!


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