Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey 'feeling good and confident again'

 

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey feels he is getting back to his old self after a testing spell both on and off the field for the Wales captain.

Ramsey came off the bench to net a well-taken goal in the Gunners' 3-1 win over Olympiacos at Emirates Stadium last night, which put them in control of Group B and safely on course for the knockout stage.

The 21-year-old has certainly been through more than his fair share of personal battles - fighting back from an horrific leg injury which ruled him out for almost a year and then, in November 2011, dealing with the death of Wales manager Gary Speed.

Ramsey, though, is now fully focused on producing consistent displays for Arsene Wenger's side, who will look to get their Barclays Premier League campaign back on track at West Ham this weekend.

"I am feeling good and confident again, getting back to my old self which got me here in the first place. Hopefully now this will kick me on again and I will keep on improving throughout the season," he said.

"It is always difficult to overcome things like that in life.

"A lot happened last year for me, there were loads of things going on off the pitch as well.

"However, now I am feeling happy and hopefully that's showing in my performances."

Ramsey had short loan spells at both Nottingham Forest and former club Cardiff after recovering from a double leg fracture following a tackle by Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross.

"It makes you stronger and it is getting over the mental side of it," said Ramsey, who was part of the Team GB Olympic squad.

"As soon as you get through that, the confidence comes back and it's a thing of the past.

"You are not sharp in your mind and you take a bit longer to think things through on the pitch which normally come naturally. Little things like that make such a big difference

"I was patient. I didn't want to rush back, I wanted to make sure everything was correct."

Ramsey's return to form adds more competition for places in the Arsenal midfield, with Abou Diaby sidelined for a couple of weeks with another niggling injury.

England international Jack Wilshere played his first match for Arsenal in more than a year in the under-21 side earlier this week, while Emmanuel Frimpong is also continuing his rehabilitation.

Ramsey said: "We haven't had a full squad for a long time, so it will be good to have competition.

"Jack's been out for such a long time and so has Frimpong - I know what they have been through.

"I have experienced it myself and it is not a good thing. You get down and it seems like it is a long way away, but they are close now.

"They are good players to keep others on their toes."

Arsenal, who beat Montpellier away in their opening Group B fixture, could all but secure a place in the last 16 with victory at home to Schalke in a fortnight after the Germans were held to a 2-2 draw by the French side.

Manager Wenger watched on from the stands as he served the second of a three-game European touchline ban.

And, like assistant boss Steve Bould, would have been less than impressed by his side's laboured start and incensed by the way they allowed Olympiacos to equalise on the stroke of half-time from a deep cross into the penalty area.

While defensively Arsenal were again left wanting, the conversion of Gervinho to a central attacking role paid dividends.

The Ivory Coast forward netted his fifth goal in as many appearances on 42 minutes with a low strike from the edge of the area, and then helped create the opening for Lukas Podolski to make it 2-1 in the second half.

Olivier Giroud again started on the bench although was unfortunate not to score when he had a shot blocked at point-blank range, and then provided the knockdown for Ramsey to run through and chip the keeper.

The France striker has scored just once since his £12million summer move from Montpellier, but is not concerned.

He said: "I need some time to get confident and to keep going - Thierry Henry he scored only in his ninth [league] game.

"For strikers it is quite difficult to adapt to the Premier League, but I am always close to scoring goals so I continue to keep confident."

PA

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