By Chris Harris
Aaron Ramsey will be out to prove tonight that he has come of age as an Arsenal player.
The Wales midfielder arrived at Emirates Stadium last summer after bursting onto the scene with Cardiff City as a 16-year-old. His first year in North London was spent picking up valuable first-team experience and honing his raw skills on the training pitches at London Colney.
This season should be different. Ramsey is a year older, a year wiser and he has already netted in the Premier League. Arsène Wenger believes the 18-year-old is pushing Arsenal's senior midfielders hard for a regular first-team spot and the manager will give him a further chance to shine when the Carling Cup campaign gets underway tonight.
Ramsey was still finding his feet at Emirates Stadium when he sparkled in last season's competition but tonight he will be one of the most experienced Arsenal players on show. It’s proof that Ramsey has grown up on and off the pitch.
"To come here from Cardiff was a big step up in terms of everything," he told Arsenal.com. "I had to get used to everything, but I'm settled now and I feel like one of the lads. I'm not a kid in the dressing room anymore, I really feel part of it.
"My awareness is better and my touch has improved, one and two touch. I maybe don't give the ball away as much as I used to, but all of that comes with experience and hopefully I can continue improving and start playing League games as well.
"I want to play every game and put pressure on the manager. I don't just want to be the guy who starts in the Carling Cup. I'm still only 18, but I'm like every other player - I want to start every game and do well for Arsenal."
Ramsey's hopes of Carling Cup glory were ended by Burnley last season but it would have been a different story had Arsenal taken their chances in that Quarter-Final tie at Turf Moor.
The young Gunners have reached the latter stages of the competition for four consecutive years - including a Final appearance in 2007 - and Ramsey is convinced they can go all the way this time.
"No matter who it is against or who is in the team for us, we play the same way in every game and our mentality is always the same," he said. "We prepare in the right way and treat every game the same.
"Of course it's a competition we can win, even if the boss fields a young team. We can win any competition. No matter what the side is, we have the same mentality to win every game and to win every competition if we can."Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source