By Chris Harris
Older, wiser and physically stronger, Aaron Ramsey is ready to stake his claim for a first-team place at Arsenal.
The Welsh international arrived at Emirates Stadium last summer and made 22 appearances last season - a decent return for a teenager in his first top-flight campaign. But much of Ramsey's first year at Arsenal was spent honing his raw potential on the training pitches and settling into a new life away from his home city of Cardiff.
He is still only 18 but Ramsey has clearly grown up in the past 12 months - on and off the pitch. Speculation over a possible midfield signing has been rife but Ramsey is hoping for his chance to shine in Arsenal's engine room. After all his potential partner - Cesc Fabregas - took an identical path into the senior side.
"I definitely feel ready to push for the first team," Ramsey told Arsenal.com.
"Obviously the first year, especially the first few months, were quite surreal. It took me a bit of time to get used to things. But now I know what to expect and I'm ready to go. I don't think I've changed too much as a person but obviously I have learned a lot, football-wise, from my first year, and mentally as well from living on my own.
"I've been doing a few things with my Dad and my brother over the summer so physically I am a lot stronger than I was as well.
"Arsenal have proven that they bring in loads of youngsters and give them opportunities. And when they are ready, the boss puts them in the team. That's what I've got to prove - that I'm ready.
"I'd like to play in every game but I will try my hardest to get into the starting XI and put pressure on the manager to pick me. That's my target for the new season."Copyright 2013 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 31 Jul 2009