Ramsey targets regular Arsenal spot

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The Independent Online

Wales teenager Aaron Ramsey is ready for a big start to 2010 - and has every confidence he can prove himself worthy of a regular place in the Arsenal team.

The midfielder, who turned 19 on Boxing Day, capped an impressive display with a fine goal in the 4-1 win at bottom club Portsmouth last night, which keeps the Gunners title challenge on track heading into the new year.

Alex Song is set to jet off to the African Nations Cup after Sunday's FA Cup third-round tie at West Ham, while both Cesc Fabregas and Denilson are struggling for fitness, so the former Cardiff trainee looks set for an extended run in the side.

Ramsey, signed in a £5million deal during June 2008, has made some 23 appearances already this season, but only three starts in the Barclays Premier League.

The Wales international intends to improve those statistics as soon as possible.

"I would not be here if I did not think I could fill the [midfield] roles, so it could be a big month for me," he said.

"I had to do the job against Portsmouth, and I think I did that. The goal was the best one I have scored so far for Arsenal, but it was not about me, it is about the team."

Ramsey declared: "I want to establish myself as a player in the starting XI and hopefully with opportunities like at Portsmouth, I can show that I am more than capable of playing in the Arsenal team. That is my target."

The Gunners now have the title very much in their sights following a fifth league win in six games to close the gap on leaders Chelsea down to just four points - and with a match in hand, against struggling Bolton on January 6.

"We have kept the pressure on and hopefully we can build on that and take that into next year," Ramsey told Arsenal TV Online.

"There have been many twists in the league so far, but we have kept going quietly and can keep the pressure on at the top.

"We are confident we can go into every game and win, so we will see where that takes us at the end of the season."

Next up for the Gunners is the small matter of a trip to Upton Park, where they threw away a two-goal lead during the closing stages of the league encounter back in October.

Ramsey does not expect his team-mates to make the same mistakes again.

"It will be tough at West Ham, but we believe we can go into the game and get the right result," he said.

"When you are in matches where you are 2-0 up, the next goal is so important because if the other team get it, you are under pressure again, they start to believe - you have to keep switched on."

Wenger has every confidence Ramsey can deliver, having handed the teenager his Arsenal debut in what was a crucial Champions League qualifier first leg away against Steve McClaren's FC Twente two seasons ago.

"Aaron is a quality player who can play right-back, left wing and is a good central midfielder," said the Arsenal boss.

"He is an all-rounder, and Cesc is a playmaker - but what they have in common, when they are on the pitch, is the personality to say: 'I am not scared to play. I am ready to play the game."'

Wenger added: "The championship is about turning up at places like Portsmouth on a cold December night and showing that you are a winner. I am proud we did that."

Song, meanwhile, has proven himself an important member of Arsenal's new-look midfield this season, but will miss some key matches while away with Cameroon - which could include showdowns with Aston Villa and Manchester United should the Indomitable Lions reach the final on January 31.

Wenger said: "Song has shown again what an important player he is for the team.

"We will miss him, but will try to keep going at the same level without him.

"We wish him well in the African Nations Cup and for him to come back safely."

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