Aaron Ramsey believes partaking in a full pre-season programme last summer was a key factor in his transition from maligned prospect to top dog and underlined his ambition to take his game to an even higher level this year.
The 23-year-old was crowned Arsenal’s Player of the Season for 13/14 after netting 16 goals in 34 appearances – including the winner in the FA Cup final – and says he’s aiming to continue his upwards trajectory after the lows of his terrible leg break in 2011.
“It’s always important to get a good pre-season in you,” the Welshman told Arsenal.com ahead of Saturday’s friendly with Boreham Wood.
“Over the years, the players that have missed out on pre-season are always playing catch-up when they come back during the season. It definitely helps players to get off to a good start.
“I’m just happy [with my progress] and I want to keep on working on my game. Hopefully I can keep improving and get better and better. That’s my target now – just to improve on my game and keep on building every season.
“I’ve been through a lot in my short career so far. I’ve had a bit of everything so it was nice to have a good season, score the number of goals that I did and be recognised a lot more.
“I’ve always believed in myself and what I can do, and I think a lot of people realised that last year and that’s what I’m more happy about.”
It’s likely that Ramsey will be charged with leading the midfield from the off this year with many of his midfield cohorts still on holiday following their respective exploits at the World Cup.
He will though, as Mikel Arteta told Arseblog News last week, also have to cope with the pressure of increased supporter expectation and the attention of opponents who’ll have him down as a marked man.
It shouldn’t be a major issue for him. Having fought back from a career-threatening injury and having won over his doubters he’s done the hard work. The main thing this term will be maintaining his consistency and staying fit…oh and…scoring overhead kicks weekly, injecting John Terry with the Ebola virus, winning us the Quadruple, starring at Milan Fashion Week, freeing North Korea from the tyranny of a madcap Communist dictator and making sure he puts the bins out each week before his new missus has a moan.
No pressure Aaron.