Mixed Emotions For Ramsey As Wales Reach Last Four

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A night of mixed emotions for Aaron Ramsey. Wales thoroughly deserved their 3 – 1 win over Belgium but the midfielder misses the semi-final through suspension. From his reaction as the yellow card was brandished, it was a point he knew only too well.

Yellow cards in tournaments have always been a contentious issue with a string of players suffering the same ill-fortune as Ramsey. I have every sympathy for him but until the rules change, two yellows means suspension. With IFAB addressing the ‘triple jeopardy’ rule, there’s hope things may change in the future.

For Ramsey right now, that’s scant consolation.

It looked as if it might go wrong for Wales when Nainngolan opened the scoring with a superb long-range effort; in football parlance, it was a shot which stayed hit. Belgium had started brightly and looked as if they might overrun their opponents.

Instead of capitulating, the Welsh displayed every quality which England lacked: Pride, passion, determination and quality. The genuine strength of their performance was playing to their genuine strengths.

Unlike England, they haven’t fallen into the trap of playing a style of football which is alien to them. Successive England managers, seduced by the allure of the Premier League, mistakenly believe that the national squad are becoming proficient technicians. It overlooks the positive influence of foreign players and coaches on the English game.

Their thinking is fundamentally flawed, not least because of their outdated and misguided tactical beliefs. Chris Coleman on the other hand, has got it right in this tournament. His side is hard-working enough to play the percentages and run into the channels. Hal Robson-Kanu’s goal resulted from Ramsey’s excellent run.

It was another great performance from the Arsenal man who has been widely praised for his impact on the Welsh. Bale gets the headlines – the semi final is already billed as “Ronaldo v Bale” – but Ramsey is the vital cog, bridging the gap between defence and attack.

His absence will be deeply felt but not insurmountable, not least because the Portuguese have been no great shakes so far.

Defensive weaknesses exposed by the Hungarians have been replaced by defensive and dour performances. Not a one-man band but certainly not an orchestra either; pub rock football. Effective but they are almost out-Greecing Rehhagel’s Greece.

Can Wales reach the final? Of course, they genuinely have a good chance – it’s their ‘once in a lifetime’ moment whilst England slouch on the road to nowhere.

Reaching the last four has emphasised the shambles over which Hodgson presided. The FA, architects of England’s downfall by not replacing the former Fulham coach two years ago, are doing what they do best: too little, too late.

Ramsey’s international form reopens the debate on his Arsenal displays. He enjoys a freer role with Coleman, slipping in from the flank to the middle at will. With Arsenal, he’s the junior creative talent but suppressing his instincts for the betterment of the team isn’t bringing the best out of him.

Nor, judging by the post-Christmas form, is it doing Arsenal any good. If we want to see the best of Ramsey, I am all in favour of 4-2-3-1 with Xhaka and Cazorla at the base, behind an attacking triumvirate of Ramsey, Özil and Sanchez.

That’s almost making the team fit around Ramsey which is the fundamental question: which is more important – the player or the team? It’s one to which Arsene has to find the answer because Ramsey genuinely seems to be enjoying himself at Euro 2016, even during their 1 – 2 reverse to England.

You have to wonder if another season of being shunted to the fight will see the frustration already manifesting in some sections of the support, surface in the player. I can’t say I would blame him either. I’m not suggesting he’s fed up, before you ask.

As it is, let the Welsh enjoy their moment in the spotlight. As Coleman cheerfully admitted in his post-match interviews, this is unprecedented success for him, the players and the country. Can it have a fairy tale ending?

They said Leicester City couldn’t win the Premier League…

‘Til Tomorrow.

62 thoughts on “Mixed Emotions For Ramsey As Wales Reach Last Four

  1. Ah, Talking Heads.

    Said yesterday, happy to say it again, good luck to Wales. Interesting formation suggestion there YW, fitting Ozil into a different system has always been the problem if the one we have right now isn’t doing it for us (it isn’t btw). Unless we replace Giroud I still think we need to find a way to play two up front, but at least there are alternatives if Arsene has the balls to change things around.

  2. Nice write up YW

    I applaud the Welsh last night and wish them every success in the tournament. I fancy they could well beat the Portugese but whoever they meet in the final may be a bridge too far. With that said, I didn’t think they’d beat the Belgian Buns last night and a final is only ever one game. Anything can happen in those situations, so who knows.

    I thought that Courtois will feel that he should’ve done better on the second and third goals last night and the first one from the corner looked like they’d been following Arsene’s directions on how to defend a corner. That’s not to take anything away from Wales, just how I saw it.

    So, we’re back to the Ramsey role at AFC. For me, this is all tied to Ozil. You could argue that Jack, Aaron and Mesut all deserve to start, but all would ideally start in the same position, which obviously can’t happen. Ozil is the kind of player that you should build a team around, but we’ve failed to do that. I’d argue that we’ve never had enough players in the first team of the right style or ability to get the best out of him playing the 10 role. That is Arsene’s fault, by the way, but that isn’t the point in this post.

    We’ve tried to shoehorn Mesut into our squad and asked him and the players around him to adapt. Meaning we’re not getting the best out of anyone, to a certain degree.

    If we’re putting everything to one side in terms of cost and status etc of a player, I’d suggest this. That a fit and firing Ramsey fits best at 10 to suit our squad and the way that Arsene sets the team out to play. He is more able to get up and down, offers a decent goal threat in and around the box and is generally more of an all rounder.

    I suppose I’m saying that Mesut is a bit niche and possibly even a bit one dimensional to what he brings and we don’t have enough runners around him to afford that luxury? He’s a majestic talent, but I’m not sure we can continue with him without a fairly major squad overhaul to play more to his strengths.

  3. I had love Ramsey to play the number 10 role at arsenal. his work rate is high than Ozil. Ozil should be drifted to the right wing. can’t wait to see a strong midfield of xhaka carzola and Ramsey will be one of the best in pm

  4. We could play 442 now Andy

    Midfield two, take your pick. jack and Aaron as the wide players, Ox backing up, Giroud and Theo up top with Ozil benched and afforded the odd sub cameo in the wide positions. Before anyone starts getting pissy with my picks with Jack and Aaron wide, I’ll counter with some of Arsene’s “wingers” from his early (and successful) years. Ray Parlour, Robert Pires, Gio Van Bronkhurst and even Edu were more those kind of players than true wingers like Overmars and Lungberg

    Obviously there are players out there that we could upgrade that situation with. Particularly in Theo’s case.

    We don’t have to play like that every week, but it’s one of my criticisms of Arsene. He is completely rigid on formation and won’t entertain a style change like that for certain situations. I’d give the guy a break if he tried it out a few times and it didn’t work out. Part of me actually thinks that he won’t because it means he has to bench his best player. i get that that might seem mad, but when it’s for the good of the team…..?

  5. Morning,

    Wow Damon, you are harsh on Courtois. Robson-Kanu was pretty much on the penalty spot when he turned and the goalie never really had much of a chance from there. The header was also excellent and it would be have been an incredible save to get fingers on it. I expect a lot from goalies, but I didn’t think he was getting close to either of those.

    Wales remind me a bit of Leicester City, in that they have a couple of flair players together with a group who work really hard and play as a team. Discipline and grunt allowing the class in the team the space to play. And we’re almost repeating the run in to the end of season, feeling they have got a chance but not quite believing they’ll do it.

  6. Good morning, yes well done to Wales, although it has to be said they the were extremely fortunate to survive two good penalty shouts, both wrongly turned down by the referee.

  7. There’s the thing Damon. Ozil is our best player and our biggest problem. Sometimes your best team cannot accommodate one or more of your best players.

    For me, Freddie wasn’t a winger in the traditional sense, more of a Parlour with more goals in him. I’d take Xhaka and Ramsey in the middle (my Petit and Vieira if you will) with Alexis one side and preferably a new wide player on the other (sorry, Theo is gone for me, The Ox isn’t performing and I don’t really like Jack there). Then a second striker alongside Giroud (could have been Welbeck but now gives Arsene a chance to sign one of those up and coming strikers he loves).

    Apart from Ozil that would leave no place for Santi, and one thing that we know is that if there is one player that Arsene wouldn’t drop apart from Ozil it’s Santi. Arsene’s whole way of playing revolves around players like those two so I’m not holding my breath while I wait for the penny to drop with the manager. Shame the way Arsene plays doesn’t work in either the PL or the CL even if he wont admit it.

  8. Didn’t watch the Wales-Belgium match but saw highlights. Some pretty fantastic goals. I am looking forward to the Italy-Germany one. A recommended tutorial for students of tactics, technique and what goes into winning a football match.

  9. @Wavey

    Agree. Watching the highlights, I didn’t think the keepers were at fault for any of the 4 goals.

  10. Great to see a decent game of football too, the other QF’s had been dire. Germany-Italy should be interesting too, maybe not as entertaining but good to watch for other reasons. France haven’t inspired me so far, a bit Meh really, but they should have too much for Iceland.

  11. And Ramsey was unlucky to pick up that yellow. You could see he tried to get his arm out of the way, and it has to be deliberate to get a card, so a mistake by the official IMO who seemed happy to book Welsh players but was lenient with the Belgians.

  12. I don’t understand some comments I hear about Wenger not giving Ramsey freedom. Arsene was the one who made him. He knows him more than anyone and Ramsey does about what he likes on the pitch for Arsenal. Even when he plays from the right, he still cuts in to the middle and pops up too at CF and u start to wonder which position he plays. Arsenal isn’t wales. We have better players and that’s why his efforts seems unnoticed compared to wales where he is a star and amongst average players.

  13. Yogi, you say that yellow cards in tournaments are a contentious issue, but why?

    There were several instances in last night’s game that quite rightly warranted a caution, should not a player who repeatedly deserves the punishment not be penalised? Is it okay for a player to commit a bookable offence in one game be permitted to repeat the action in subsequent games without punishment?

    Tough luck on Ramsey for being booked for a fairly innocuous hand-ball, but other players have been suspended for far more serious offences, and quite rightly so. What action would you have taken against such serial offenders?

    Of course it’s unlikely to affect any England players as they/we seldom stay in a tournament long enough to pick up bookings in subsequent games.

  14. Orson

    It’s being debated in the pub, media and social media. Comes up every tournament, always the same argument as to why the tally of cards isn’t reset after group stage or Round of 16.

  15. Okay, just to clarify. I didn’t say that I thought he should’ve saved them. I said I think he’ll feel he should have done better.

    If you watch the goals back, Robson Kanu’s one is a reaction stop. He gets across quick enough to stop it, but his hand kind of goes under the ball? I wouldn’t blame him, its a reaction. But as a top class keeper, I’d like to think that having got there in time, he’ll feel his instincts should’ve got something onto that.

    The third one is probably a bit more contentious. But. He isn’t beaten by pace and it isn’t put right in the corner of the goal. He’s extremely close to getting something on it, but it’s small margins like that in anything for a keeper. Again, I’m not suggesting he should’ve stopped it, but I think he’ll question his positioning slightly on that

    Look, neither finishes were worldies like Belgium’s was and any world class keeper is going to be disappointed to have let one of those past him. He probably feels the law of averages has let him down a bit too to have conceded two like that in one game. It goes like that for keepers though, no?

  16. Yogi, I can understand, up to a point, wiping the slate clean after the preliminary rounds but that yellow card hanging over the miscreants does serve as a restraining influence on those likely to commit the more outrageous or dangerous acts. Let’s face it there are far too many fouls in the game at present and any action taken to reduce the number can only be a good thing, can’t it?

  17. Look, Ramsey was brilliant yesterday, but it amazes me that Ramsey was playing a completely free role for Wales. The thing with Wales is that they built their team around Bale and Ramsey so they are playing to his strengths. We play a different system and style. Yes he has been really good for country but has been inconsistent for club and since he isn’t the best player at the club then why should we build a system that caters to him.

    If we are to build a system and style it should be built around Ozil, Sanchez and Xhaka.

  18. For the second goal from that distance you just throw yourself and hope to get something on it, but know you are lucky if you do. If you go the right way in the first place you are praying that you get a touch. He would know that he was going to be lucky to have it hit him.
    For the third goal it’s hit the side netting on the far side of the goal. Too much on the header and its going near post where Courtois gobbles it up, too little and its sailing past the far post. Not sure he could have connected much better with the ball to get it in the far side, unless he had managed to hit the post and go in.

  19. Also, I find it interesting that people are forgetting that Arsene gave Ramsey freedom of movement and no responsibility at various times last season and the season before and the team struggled because he wasn’t doing thr defensive work.

    I’m not taking anything from Ramsey, I know some will say I am. I just think its interesting that there seems to be this notion that Ramsey is more likely to score or be creative. If we are to play a 442 it wouldn’t be Xhaka and Ramsey for me it would be Xhaka and Le Coq.

  20. So, on playing with two up top again

    The arrival of Granit has got me wondering a bit….

    Back in Arsene’s early days, he played a bit of 532, unless I’m losing my memory? As I remember, didn’t Merson, Vieira and Platt make up his three for a bit?

    I’m not suggesting we go back to that, but how about a 4132 ? Granit being the 1 in front of the back 4. I’d argue that neither Le Coq nor Elneny could play that role successfully. Le Coq lacks the distribution required, but brings the bite. Elneny the opposite?

    You could play Giroud and Sanchez up top, with Ramsey, Ozil and Santi being the middle three. Not far off a modern day version of his old middle three? Ramsey being Vieira, Ozil being Platt and Santi for Merson – indulge my imagination, I know it’s a bit of a stretch!

    It would be a draining style of play on the midfield trio. They’d have to be so disciplined in not leaving Granit overly exposed, offer width going forwards and cover for the full backs. They could interchange with each other at will, but would have to be sure not to get under each others feet.

    This game would suit Ramsey. He’s been good at running into the channels for Wales. Whilst it kind of negates the traditional 10 role, it also kind of lets them all have a go at it. Which was happening at times last season anyway?

    If we were looking to play that way and I were looking for a partner for Giroud, I think I would’ve gone calling on Vardy. With or without the release clause that made it look a bit like an Arsene bargain bucket raid? Maybe that’s just me though

    Sanchez could drop into that three from time to time and I think the shape would suit Ox’s game in there. In fact, we’ve probably have enough depth and variation to rotate the trio around quite a lot?

    Am I being a bit mental, or am I onto something?

  21. @Damon

    I dont think your mental, the one thing with the 4132 would be similar to what I have suggested with a adapted 442 with a midfield diamond. The one thing though is that and again this is not a swipe at Giroud, but Ramsey is best for Wales when he runs the channels which is also based on mobile front men (think Robson-Kanu or even Bale at times) not to mention Sanchez likes to drift into the channels and does so for Chile and really when he was at Udinese and Barca so why not get a more mobile strike partner for Sanchez.

    For me it would be something similar to:

    Cech
    Bellerin—-Mert/Kos/Gabriel—–Nacho
    ——————Xhaka————–
    —–Ramsey/Jack/Santi/Ox/Elneny (choose 2)
    ——————-Ozil—————–
    ——-CF———–Sanchez

    Now that would also allow Le Coq to play where Xhaka is because he wouldn’t have to worry about the distribution but would also allow for flexibility in switching between a 4231 or a 433 with ease. It would also give the 3 in midfield to attack and create that balance of defending with 5 and attacking with 5. For me this would also work best if we pressed and played at tempo.

    Its not my preferred choice but it could work. For my mind, when you look at our “core”(Xhaka, Ozil, Sanchez, Bellerin, Ramsey and Jack(when those 2 are fit), Le Coq and Santi) they are best when playing with movement in their respective areas which doesn’t always suit Giroud (who is a brilliant Plan B in this sytem or for certain matches). So getting a strike partner for Sanchez should be the key not just in the present but moving forward especially with Giroud now 30.

  22. So Mhitaryn to Manure is official. He would have been perfect opposite Sanchez because he not only creates but is a goal threat for sure.

  23. C

    So a 442 with a diamond midfield, yeah?

    You just can’t not put Ozil in behind the strikers, can you? You and Arsene have more in common than you’d think then!?! 😉

  24. @Damon

    The question is why can’t we? If Ozil bring 5-8 goals plus 13+ assists with 2 strikers (Sanchez and another more clinical striker like Lacazette or Icardi or Higuain) why not? I think its interesting that people talk about needing more goal scoring from Ozil and the solution is Ramsey who had one double digit season but other than that hasn’t cracked double digits in goals or assists. The problem with Ozil isn’t that he isn’t clinical its that he doesn’t always shoot but instead puts his mates in better position.

    For Wales, Ramsey is free and looks to create not score goals so I find it funny a bit. Personally, I want Ozil creating more than Ramsey.

    Yea, have something more in common with Lowe too I guess. I was raised with a #10 with Brasil and 2 strikers but also a up tempo 433 system where you have a DM, a box to box and an ACM each capable of doing a bit of all 3 but at different levels.

  25. There seems to be a big push on the story that we are going to buy Asano from Japan. Apparently he will go out on loan immediately, but we are clearly trying to attract the Asian market again. I don’t see anything wrong in that, but shouldn’t we focus on a first choice striker first?

  26. The problem with Ozil isn’t that he isn’t clinical its that he doesn’t always shoot but instead puts his mates in better position

    Well, yes

    Or, the problem with Ozil is we haven’t got a proper CF who can run in behind and is deadly with his finishing

    As a side note, if we did play two up front, when he’s fit, I’d be interested to see Welbeck play off Giroud

  27. Wavey

    You haven’t got your business head on. Buy the Japanese kid, mop up a big bit of market share over there, sign the marquee player and recoup the Jap kids transfer fee in shirt sales with Lukaku’s name on the back of them

    Job done

  28. Sorry, Asano = Pointless waste of time.

    Another pet project for Wenger who will be lucky to play a single PL game.

  29. Damon

    That’s why I said I can understand the point of the signing. But we have this habit of putting all of efforts in to one project at a time. So we end up go all gung Ho for the Asano lad and get that deal sorted, but completely take our eye of the ball in terms of the main goal, a striker. I would normally expect a club to be able to handle both things at the same time, but we have history with this kind of thing.

  30. @Damon

    Yup, we have Sanchez to get on the end and a hot and cold CF in Giroud. So change the system or buy a clinical CF, seems like a easy choice

  31. C, how many minutes has Ramsey played in the last three seasons vs Jack? And how does Ramsey compare to the minutes played vs the rest of the outfield? Really, really wish you’d stop clumping those two together and continually doing the snide (when those two are fit) almost any time Ramsey comes up. And Ramsey went into double digits in ’14/15 too, think it was 10 goals.

    I get what you’re saying and it makes sense, I mean Ozil is the type of player you build a team around. But I do also think we could make it work or at least I’d like to try our 13/14 formation keeping Ozil at #10 and Ramsey at B2B but arm him with a distributor like Xhaka, taking Arteta’s spot.

    Sorry I just kinda think you tend to be unduly harsh or dismissive of Ramsey. He was frustrating last season for sure but he’s shown what he’s capable of.

  32. @Gustavo

    You must have missed when I have said a midfield of Xhaka/Ramsey/Ozil would be a goof midfield. Yes Santi in Ramsey could easily swap but I also think Ramsey is inconsistent.

    Nothing I have said about Ramsey is fabricated, hell I was one of the few who thought he would take the reins when Santi got injured and run with them. I get what you are saying about his injury record compared to Jack’s, but lets also not act ad though Ramsey doesn’t get injured and is out for long stretches of the season(more than thr fabled couple of weeks).

    Based on your comments you make it seem as though I have something against Ramsey, which I don’t. The discussion that I always have and will continue to have is when its brought up replacing Ozil with Ramsey and that is ALWAYS were my discussion about Ramsey starts and stops. He is best as a ‘runner’ type, getting box to box and and making runs, not as thr primary dictator and creator. He does so brilliantly for Wales because he and Bale are given the freedom and are the best players and most likely to make something happen. For Arsenal he isn’t and because of that we can’t build a system or team around him.

  33. Sorry Wavey

    You’re right. I forgot that our team of negotiators that probably earn millions of pounds a year through their combined salaries and have access to bountiful expense accounts and various other luxuries and perks to make the job easier are actually completely myopic and have never handles two deals, even a little one and a big one, simultaneously.

    Well, not at this a the of the window, anyway

  34. That was fucking poor from Zaza, that wasn’t even close.

    Then Muller with a poor penalty, Muller has been poor in the Euro’s this year and in previous years.

  35. Have to tip your hat to the Italians though, they have been absolutely brilliant all Euro’s long and Conte shows he is going to be tough to beat.

  36. Buffon is total class yet again. Immediately congratulating the German players.

    Damon

    I truly wish they could, but they seem completely unable to do so. Unless of course we are talking about the supermarket sweep they seem to try at the end of a transfer window. I am amazed that a team who work for such a big club seem so inept, but I think it’s more about AW needing to have involvement in everything. I’m not specifically slagging him off for that, but it seems to make everything just that bit more laboured.

  37. Outside of the poor penalty, Ozil played well and has all tournament (okay don’t have him take pens but whatever). He took his goal really well and was a threat. If not for Bonucci, Ozil would have been the match winner and it would have been an interesting narrative.

    The one thing that has been interesting is how poor Muller has played in the Euro’s. Stat most won’t believe: Muller has NEVER scored or made an assist in the Euro’s.

  38. Wavey

    Completely agree

    Also, I know every club gets “played” from one time or another in transfer dealings, but we seem to all the time? Now, I’m sure someone will say it just cos I focus my attention on AFC so I notice it more. Well, consider this. When was the last time you had a little chiluckle to yourself and thought, yep, we’ve definitely had a laugh at them there when we pulled their pants down on that one??

  39. Buffon is proper class

    Following our discussion on Courtois, I know any keeper hates a penalty that goes underneath them. Which the winning one did to Buffon. It just so happened to be in that magic spot where he arched his body and couldn’t get a limb involved quick enough. I wouldn’t blame him

    Going back to Courtois, thinking about him yesterday and our chat on him. I thought this a couple of times last season and I base it on club football more than this tournament. Do you ever think Chelsea sold the wrong keeper? I know there’s the age thing and Chelsea were generally shit last year, but even still???

  40. Maybe I’m being harsh, but Pelle’s penalty last night was on of the worst I’ve seen in ages. No pace and missed my miles (at this level)

  41. There were some pretty awful pens last night, but Pelle’s was pretty lousy. Cannot imagine what odds would have been on Ozil, Muller and Schweinsteiger all missing out of the first 5 pens.

  42. He’s usually always the banker. Never lets them down. Would never expect him to be the one skying a pen.

  43. So, who have we actually tried to sign apart from Vardy?

    Getting worked up over (more than likely made up) transfer “snubs” is a waste of energy. I blame newsnow! Bastards

    I have found myself cursing the manager, club, board etc when we have “missed out again” on players I have never heard of let alone if they are any good or even had the remotest interest in.

    I think we need at the very least two more signings and will be guuted if we don’t, as I was last summer… But I will be strapped to a gurny in a nice padded room if I don’t postpone my angst and ire til September 1st.

    Have a delightful Sunday

    Alf Veeder-Zane Pet!

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