Mathieu Flamini: Defence the difference
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Aaron Ramsey is flourishing this season because he has finally overcome the mental scars of a leg injury picked up against Stoke more than three years ago.
Ramsey suffered a horrific leg break in a clash with Potters defender Ryan Shawcross in February 2010, with his form fluctuating in the years since.
However, the Wales international picked up his form at the back end of last term and has performed consistently well this season.
And Wenger believes the dramatic turnaround for the midfielder -- who will renew acquaintances with Shawcross as Stoke travel to the Emirates on Sunday -- is down to him finally getting over the psychological damage of his injury.
“It took him a long time to get completely over [the injury], especially in the fight. He had a little resistance to go into the fights for a long time, but he is over it,” Wenger said. “He scores goals now and I always thought he would score goals if he improves his technical quality.
“When you watched the games, you saw him always in good positions in the box and when he got the chances, he missed sometimes. He has improved tremendously on that. He has a great engine, great spirit and an obsession to become better.
“It is in the last three, four months of last season that I thought physically he improved. He had a difficult period mid-season when people became impatient with him, he lost confidence. Sometimes give players a rest, they rebuild their confidence, think about their game and they come back stronger.
“There is a basic rule in our game, when you have a big injury before the age of 20, you come back and develop completely normally, once the psychological damage is gone in the head. You never know how big, how deep the impact is psychological.
“Every test you pass, you come back mentally stronger. In our career, you go through periods when people like you a bit less or hate you a bit more. If you can deal with that, it makes you stronger.”