You have to see Gareth Bale close up to get his secret. He's incredible, says Aaron Ramsey
Arsenal's midfielder hopes some of the stardust from his Wales team-mate will rub off, starting against Bayern Munich
They are young Welsh sportsmen born 18 months apart, friends and team-mates in a shirt with a red dragon but locked in tribal rivalry ever since both decided to spurn Manchester United and head for north London instead. It will continue until one or other moves on, which Tottenham supporters are worried will be as soon as one of the world's richest clubs make an offer for Gareth Bale that the Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy, is unable to refuse.
Aaron Ramsey understands the fuss. Try as he might to bring the conversation back to himself and Arsenal ahead of this week's Champions' League tie at home to Bayern Munich, it was impossible not to give due credit to his countryman – not least because the previous evening Bale's latest stunning goals had again won Tottenham an important game.
Ramsey had not watched the 2-1 victory over Lyon, but was well aware of the goals. "Those free-kicks he produced last night, being away with him with Wales, we stay behind and I see how he does it," he said. "He stays behind and practises them and it's paid off."
As if concerned that Arsenal followers might feel this is awarding too much credit to the enemy, he quickly adds: "Players here practise free-kicks after training, and they can win you games, which [Bale] proved yesterday. Maybe it'll happen for us as well, where someone whips it into the top corner."
Having come through together as part of the new Wales, it is understandable that the pair – Bale is the older – should find comparisons being made. Until his cruel injury suffered at Stoke three years ago this month, Ramsey was possibly considered the more talented.
"For me right now it's just a case of concentrating on what I've been doing of late and getting back the confidence I had before the injury, and who knows what can happen then," he said. "When [Bale] first started, Spurs were struggling to win whenever he played, but it's unbelievable how quickly things can change in football.
"After that, as soon as they moved him up the pitch he has been unplayable at times." And then a quick reminder of who the interview is supposed to be about: "So yes, I'm happy with where I'm at at the moment, I know what I'm capable of doing and hopefully I can keep progressing, get that confidence and carry it on."
Irrespective of personal rivalries, the two north London teams seem certain to be duelling until the end of the season; both out of the FA Cup following the shock inflicted by Blackburn yesterday; Spurs lying one place ahead in the table, occupying the Champions' League spot denied to them in the current campaign, while Arsenal are in the knockout stage.
Ramsey says Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski have been supplying information on Bayern to the dressing room: "All the Germans are very professional, very organised and solid as a team. They have some good individuals as well, who can create things. They're a good team but we're confident."
As for his own form, Ramsey believes he has strengthened his claim for a starting place, even with Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla also competing for the central midfield positions: "We have some good competition there but I have trained well over the last few weeks, have done some bits and bobs away from the pitch and fought my way into the team. Hopefully I can continue that and keep myself in the starting eleven. And I have had positive feedback from the boss."
Arsenal's record of having reached the knockout stage 13 times in succession is unmatched. For three years running, however – twice in Barcelona and once in Milan – they have fallen apart in a crucial away leg, conceding 11 goals. The feeling is that they will need a lead to take to Munich in three weeks' time.
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