Unai Emery is facing the first major test of his Arsenal reign over Aaron Ramsey.
The Gunners stalwart was stunned at being dropped from the starting line-up for Saturday’s defeat at Chelsea.
It comes at a time when Ramsey is involved in contract negotiations, as he is in the final year of his current deal at the Emirates.
New boss Emery is understood to have not been happy with the Welshman’s performance in the opening weekend’s2-0 home defeat against champions Manchester City.
That was the reason why he was left out at the weekend, and the midfielder is believed to have gone in to speak to Emery last week on the back of the City match.
Emery made it clear he hasn’t blamed any individuals for the defeats and wanted a better balance in his midfield, insisting the team will have to work harder as a unit to improve after their nightmare start under him.
But Ramsey’s team-mates were still left shocked that he was left out, effectively being made the midfield fall guy while others kept their places.
Granit Xhaka was substituted at halftime at Stamford Bridge and Mesut Ozil was also replaced — Ramsey coming on for him with 22 minutes remaining in the 3-2 loss.
He looked annoyed after the Chelsea game and did not want to talk to the media after the defeat.
Post-match, Emery said that he wanted to find the right balance in his line-up and that was the reason he made changes.
It now remains to be seen as to whether Ozil will keep his place for the West Ham game on Saturday after the former Germany star was hooked following another disappointing display.
Arsenal remain confident Ramsey will re-sign but do face a major issue as he can leave on a free at the end of the season if he decides against putting pen to paper.
Ramsey, signed from Cardiff by Arsene Wenger a decade ago, has been one of the Gunners’ most important and influential players in recent seasons but the two parties are still a long way apart on agreeing new terms.
There has been interest from Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as overseas clubs.
Ramsey’s advisers have seen Arsenal raise the bar with contracts after putting Ozil on £350,000-a-week.
He knows he would command in excess of £250,000-a-week as a free agent and the club now face a battle to keep him — especially with these doubts over his place in the side lurking in the background.
Will this be Aaron Ramsey’s last season at Arsenal?
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