Stats: The reason Arsenal are likely to finish above Manchester United

Aaron Ramsey

Aaron Ramsey's form last season represents a key advantage the Gunners hold over Louis van Gaal's side in the Premier League.

The condemnation of Arsene Wenger has become a yearly event now.

Every pre-season, pundits and critics line up to take a shot at the Arsenal boss - and suggest, contrary to all available evidence, that the Gunners will finish outside the top four in the Premier League.

But, while Wenger deserves criticism for his side's inability to challenge for the title in recent years, one thing he never fails to do is just that - finish inside the top four.

This season, the cycle is beginning again, with many suggesting Manchester United, in particular, stand a much better chance of qualifying for the Champions League than Arsenal.

For that to happen, though, Louis van Gaal will have to overturn a significant disadvantage at Old Trafford - the Manchester side's inferior midfield. And one man, specifically, embodies the divide: Aaron Ramsey.

  TeamPosGoals / appAssists / appsDribbles Won / appsAccurate Passes / appsSuccessful Final-Third Passes / appsAppsMins
Aaron Ramsey Arsenal MF 0.43 0.35 1.30 55.57 18.39 23 1,764
Juan Mata Man Utd MF 0.40 0.27 0.87 50.33 18.47 15 1,230
Theo Walcott Arsenal MF 0.38 0.31 0.69 16.15 7.85 13 858
Mesut Özil Arsenal MF 0.19 0.35 1.73 55.46 29.19 26 2,149
Adnan Januzaj Man Utd MFO 0.15 0.11 1.89 18.07 8.85 27 1,640

As Opta stats show, no Arsenal or United midfielder scored more goals per game than Ramsey in the top flight last season. The Welshman also registered a remarkably how number of assists per game - matching Mesut Ozil - and averaged over 55 accurate passes per game, as well as over 18 completed passes per match in the final third.

Indeed, it is no wonder Gunners fans were so hard hit by the 23-year-old's injury.

For Manchester United, Juan Mata in the no.10 role was almost as impressive, although he was second best in every area bar successful final-third passes per match (and even then he only just shaded it).

Beyond the Spaniard, however, United lacked the attacking forces from midfield to match their powerful front line. And, this season, that is unlikely to change unless Van Gaal finally recruits the much-sought Arturo Vidal - or somone as effective.

Ander Herrera will improve the midfield at Old Trafford, of course, but will he provide goals and assists like Ramsey?

The Welshman is by far and away the most powerful midfielder of the two sides and, when it is debated who will finish above the other in the Premier League, Ramsey's form and ability to stay fit for the duration of the season must be considered one of the biggest deciding factors.

Could Ramsey be this season's player of the year?

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