Wenger hails maturing Ramsey

The 21-year-old Gunner has grabbed his opportunity this season,

stepping into a regular first-team place alongside Mikel Arteta and

Alex Song following the summer sale of Cesc Fabregas and injury to

Jack Wilshere.

Wenger was always confident the former Cardiff trainee could

make the step up in class, all the more remarkable in the wake of

his horrendous leg injury in February 2010.

“I brought him in because of his quality,” said the Arsenal


“People forget about Ramsey is that this is his first full

season really.

“For me, he is growing month to month and people are a bit

impatient with him.

“I am very happy with what he is delivering – and if Wilshere

comes back [soon] they can play together.”

Ramsey has been outspoken in his views over the future of Wales

following the death of manager Gary Speed.

Wenger is impressed with how Ramsey has taken such an important

role in his stride.

“Aaron has personality,” said the Arsenal manager.

“He is a bit young [to be a captain], because it is a massive

responsibility for a player that age with the little experience he


“However, he can take pressure so he will grow very quickly in

this role and he will be a great captain for Wales.”

Arsenal head to Liberty Stadium looking to get their drive

toward the top four back on course following a largely

disappointing festive season, which saw them lose at Fulham before

securing an FA Cup third-round victory over Leeds last Monday


Gunners legend Thierry Henry came off the bench to score the

winner and the on-loan New York Red Bulls forward could team up

with Arsenal captain Robin van Persie tomorrow when the Dutchman

returns to the squad after some extra time off.

Wenger said: “I gave Robin a breather because he is under more

pressure than anybody else because of his injury history and

because he played more games than anybody else in 2011.

“He was always happy when Thierry joined us, but what we expect

of him now is to continue his goalscoring record he delivered in

2011 and hopefully ready for another fight.”

Wenger believes both men could feature in what would be an

awesome frontline.

“They have a good understanding,” said the Arsenal manager.

“If the team is balanced offensively and defensively then they


“Thierry can play out wide as well because he still has the

reflexes of a winger. When he is on the left side he can still pass

people and deliver.

“But of course it demands a lot of physical effort and it is

more suited to a player who is between 20 and 30.

“Thierry always had exceptional physical quality so even if he

has dropped a little bit, he is still good.”

With Gervinho away at the African Nations Cup, tomorrow could

well present another opportunity for Andrey Arshavin.

The Russian, 30, continues to divide opinion among Gunners fans,

but not Wenger.

“We know he has the talent. He has been questioned many times,

but his attitude has always been spot on,” said the Arsenal


“In the last game specifically, he showed that he needs to play

with confidence and freedom, that is his strength.

“Andrey is a creative player and you need that fraction of

belief and confidence to play with freedom.

“He has always been a player who plays on the borderline, he is

a big gambler.

“But at the end of the day against QPR, he gave the ball to

Robin van Persie to score in that game.

“Sometimes the visual impression you get from a game has been

frustrating, but he is very efficient.”

Swansea have competed well so far in their first Premier League

campaign, especially at home where Brendan Rodgers’ men have won

four and lost just once.

Wenger has been impressed by the Welshmen, who came up via the


“They have the quality to play in the Premier League because

they play positive football,” the Arsenal boss said.

“Swansea play without fear anywhere. They have just won at Aston

Villa and overall I think they are a team who looks completely in

their place in the Premier League.”