Jacob Ramsey can fill Aston Villa midfield void after Boubacar Kamara injury
Aston Villa will have to overcome the odds to claim three points against West Ham this weekend with influential midfielder Boubacar Kamara sidelined with injury – but Jacob Ramsey could be the man to shine in his absence.
The Frenchman hobbled off the pitch mid-way through the second half of Aston Villa’s 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace after a strong challenge from Cheick Doucoure, who was sent off shortly afterwards for an accumulation of two yellow cards.
The Athletic’s Gregg Evans reported (March 6) that Kamara is set for at least a month on the Villa Park medical table with an ankle injury, which is a significant blow and leaves a gaping hole in the heart of Unai Emery’s side.
So far this season, when the 23-year-old has missed out on selection, Aston Villa’s form has been pretty dire. In the six games he has been absent, Villa have managed to pick up just five points, including one win, two draws, and three losses.
On top of this, the club have lost their last five consecutive games against West Ham in the Premier League with an aggregate of 12 goals to four, highlighting just what a big result it would be if Emery could travel to the London Stadium and come back with three points.
With Leander Dendoncker also sidelined, Emery faces a tough decision on how he will shuffle his troops for the trip to the London Stadium on Sunday (12 March).
John McGinn has just started to find his feet in a more advanced midfield position, while usual midfield understudy Dendoncker has created a real headache with his absence.
When asked about his alternative options in the middle of the park after the game, Emery said: “Calum Chambers can play in this position and I can use other players like Jacob Ramsey, too.” [Birmingham Live, 4 March]
And when looking into the stats, Ramsey may be the most likely option to deploy beside Douglas Luiz in this holding position. Although the young Englishman is well-regarded for his attacking qualities and ability to carry the ball progressively, his defensive stats aren’t too far behind Kamara.
Over his 18 appearances this season, Ramsey has recorded 2.1 tackles per match, which is the joint second-highest total in the Aston Villa squad with John McGinn – and only behind the man beside him in the WhoScored graphic below.
Ramsey, on average, also makes 0.7 interceptions per game compared to Kamara’s 0.9 while just being pipped out by the Frenchman in terms of clearances, which is impressive given his more advanced midfield role.
Despite Kamara being notoriously known as a defensive-minded warrior, his ability to carry the ball from deep and beat the press has become one of his major strengths since Emery’s arrival.
For Philippe Coutinho’s beautifully constructed goal against Arsenal, it was the 23-year-old who ran from deep with the ball before releasing John McGinn down the left flank.
Again against Crystal Palace, it was Kamara’s dribbling ability under pressure that eventually resulted in Matty Cash being set free down the right wing before creating Villa’s goal.
This is something that Ramsey isn’t afraid to try, and if anything, it should play into his strengths perfectly.
Choosing Ramsey in the middle of the park in Kamara’s stead would be a huge vote of confidence from Emery, and if selected, the former academy product has all the tools to make a success of it.
In other Aston Villa news, the future of this loanee hangs in the balance as contract talks await.