By Peter Hall
(Reuters) - Aaron Ramsey struggled to impose himself at Juventus following his dream move from Arsenal in 2019, but he is finally proving what he can do in Italy as the Turin club continue their march back up the Serie A standings.
Ramsey, who joined Juventus following a teary departure from Arsenal after 10 years at the north London club, proved an unlikely hero last Sunday when his 82nd-minute strike put them 2-1 ahead against a dogged Sassuolo.
Their eventual 3-1 win kept them seven points behind leaders AC Milan, having played one game fewer, and four off second-placed Inter Milan, who Juve face in the San Siro on Sunday.
While Juve, who are chasing a 10th straight title, have not been their usual imperious selves this season, four wins in their last five league games, including a 3-1 success at AC Milan last week, have propelled Andrea Pirlo's side back up the table.
Cristiano Ronaldo's goals have of course been pivotal to their revival, but several other players have found their form in recent weeks.
Paulo Dybala and Federico Chiesa have also impressed, but Ramsey has caught the eye of boss Pirlo.
"Ramsey has been a revelation to me," Pirlo said last month. "I had no idea he was such a good and smart player.
"Unfortunately we have only had him at 100 percent on a few occasions. I hope that day by day we can have him back to his best as he is an important player for me and this club."
Injuries plagued Ramsey's spell at Arsenal in the Premier League, and his first year at Juventus in 2019-20 was no different as he started just 11 league games.
This season, Ramsey has seen more regular first-team action, but it is in the last five games that the Welshman has really stepped up. The only game in that run in which Ramsey did not feature for more than an hour was Juve's 3-0 defeat to Fiorentina.
Ramsey has made two assists in his last three starts, and scoring his first goal of the season last weekend, arriving right on cue in the penalty area as he so often did at Arsenal, will help him kick on.
There is still a long way to go in the season, but Sunday's clash at the San Siro is a crucial one for Pirlo, who has much to prove in his first season as a senior coach.
A defeat on Sunday would leave Juve seven points behind Inter, and a loss coupled with an AC Milan win at Cagliari on Monday would leave the champions 10 points off top.
With Milan having lost only once all season, overcoming such a gap would not be easy. Ronaldo's goals will be crucial, but others will have to chip in, and Ramsey, fit and finding some form, could make a big impact.
(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Toby Davis)