Aaron Ramsey played his final game for Nottingham Forest this afternoon and returns to Arsenal as of now. We already knew this was to be his last game at Forest after Le Boss announced the loan would not be extended at the end of last week. Aaron completed ninety minutes today which must be an encouraging sign. Obviously the December weather blighted his loan spell slightly and restricted the amount of action he was able to see, though that might not have been such a bad thing as he comes back from his broken leg. I am concerned, however, over some of Arsene Wenger's remarks about the boy.
At his press conference Wenger said that Ramsey would return to Arsenal as Abou Diaby would be out for three weeks. He followed this up by saying that Ramsey wouldn't be ready to take part in a Premier League game until February. It could be that Wenger isn't too good at reading the calendar but three weeks from last Friday doesn't even get us near to the end of January. I am very worried that Ramsey is about to fall victim to what I call "Stephen Hughes Syndrome." Those with a reasonable memory will remember Stephen Hughes as midfielder of some promise in the late 1990's when he was understudy to Emmanuel Petit. The only thing Hughes lacked was a yard of pace, though he was a very good passer of the ball and an excellent finisher in front of goal. Towards the end of his Arsenal career he had a few injuries and we kept hearing from Wenger that Hughes had to "get match-fit." Ever since then there have been people who needed to "get match-fit" - people such as Lauren and Freddie Ljungberg for example. What it has meant in reality is that those people were finished at Arsenal.
I hope that Ramsey is able to prove me wrong. It may well be that Arsenal are being extra-cautious with his recovery, maybe feeling they made some errors with Eduardo when he was coming back. However, there are other players (albeit with lesser injuries of course) who seem to come back in without ever needing to "get match-fit" - the aforementioned Abou Diaby being a prime example - often having been out for months. Unless Vermaelen's injury is a chronic one that will put an end to his time at the Club you can be sure that he will return immediately, possibly after a brief run-out with the Reserves, or behind-closed-doors at the training ground.
When Ramsey went on loan I said that I thought he might return to the matchday squad for the FA Cup third-round. Arsene Wenger's comments would seem to make that scenario unlikely. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see Rambo warming the bench on Saturday, and what a boost it would be to the fans and the squad if he was there.
I have to work tomorrow afternoon/evening, and again on Wednesday morning. If I get a chance I will post a Man City preview before I go tomorrow, otherwise you won't hear from me again until Thursday morning.