It is not unusual for Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard to strike a discordant note. England spent a decade waiting in vain for them to click as a central midfield partnership so perhaps it is no surprise that, on the subject of Aaron Ramsey this past week and a half, their opinions have jarred.
Ramsey’s performances since assuming a central role for Arsenal in the wake of Santi Cazorla’s long-term injury have engaged the brains of two of the greatest Premier League midfielders. Last week, speaking ahead of Arsenal’s 3-0 Champions League win over Olympiakos, Steven Gerrard first championed Ramsey as the best midfielder in the top flight when it comes to attack. It was quite an endorsement from a man who scored 120 Premier League goals from midfield for Liverpool — seven more than Ian Wright.
Explaining on BT Sport why Ramsey’s best position was not on the right of midfield, where he has been stationed for most of the season, Gerrard said: “For me, when he’s in that form he’s the best attacking midfielder in the Premier League. So you’ve got to play your best players where they want to be and I’m sure he’ll want to be in the middle.” Ramsey enthusiastically circulated this analysis.
Lampard, though, was more circumspect about Ramsey’s suitability for a central role. Even after Ramsey scored in the 2-0 win over Aston Villa at the weekend, Lampard tempered Gerrard’s praise with a more sober appraisal of the Welshman.
“Ramsey has to change his game and think about the defensive side of his game,” Lampard said on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football. “With [Mesut] Ozil playing so well he knows he’s not going to get that No. 10 role, so he’ll have to drop deeper.
“At the moment he doesn’t yet have the ability to play in the midfield two. I love him as a player, very bright and very clever but you can see by the way he’s running back he doesn’t really want to do it.
“Ramsey has to see that Ozil is the No. 10 and drop back in. It’s alright playing like he does when you’re playing the lesser teams, but when you’re playing top teams you need to be more secure.”