Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s Arsenal career has always been one that has been earmarked for greatness. He’s always had bags of potential. He’s always had a fearlessness about him. He’s always seemed to handle the pressure of being a young English talent a lot better than the likes of Theo Walcott even. And so came his big moment, in last seasons Community Shield final, he took the ball on the right hand corner of the penalty area, turned onto his left foot and ripped his shot into the top corner of the net. The watershed moment we all thought. The moment he had been building towards for the past five seasons. Then came indifferent form and injury. He couldn’t quite replicate that performance with similar during the course of the season and that’s when some fans began to turn. What we once heralded as potential and promise became the touch paper for some of the Arsenal contingent. His inconsistencies have led to a lack of confidence in himself from the man and in turn it’s showing on the pitch. He’s second guessing himself in situations where instinct would serve him better. This for a man who is 23 years old. Still so young.
Because of his yoyo-ing Arsenal career he has been the subject of great debate since the beginning of pre-season, if slightly premature in my opinion. All that being considered, he has had some game winning moments for us and in turn this has been his highest scoring season with us, having hit the net on five occasions. Strange to think that this is the most that he has contributed goals wise to a season with us, but it’s great news. On top of it all, there’s still plenty more that we can hope for from him. Even in the EFL cup game vs Reading he got on the scoresheet twice and there were still many watching on with the opinion that he frustrated at times and that there is more that he could be doing. Now this is in no way a like for like comparison, however I remember Lionel Messi scoring a hat-trick, getting an assist and also winning a penalty against Man City this season with people saying he didn’t do too much. LOL. Now I get that he could be doing more in a game, but when a player scores two goals from midfield you have to be happy with that in a game where you’re leading 2-0 and it’s the difference. There were moments where we were 1-0 up and he had good opportunities to play in other team mates for a chance and he was a little Sturridge-esque for my liking.
The main point with Oxlade Chamberlain is that he has been given one last chance, even though it seems silly to suggest as such, to prove he has what it takes to cut it at Arsenal football club. With Riyad Mahrez confirming that Arsenal were interested in him this month and made an offer, it’s clear that the likes of Theo Walcott and The Ox were potential suitors for the exit door this summer. In my opinion it was more Theo Walcott that was closer to that than The Ox, but it was a clear message to the wide men that they weren’t quite pulling their weight. The fact that we didn’t have any buyers willing to meet the wage demands of Walcott saved him in my opinion and this left Wenger basically saying “it’s your last chance”. The reason that it’s just as much for The Ox as it is for Walcott is simply due to the fact that Alex Iwobi has come into the side and performed magnificently. It means that we now have four concrete options in wide areas with Iwobi, Walcott, The Ox and Lucas Perez our primary options, with the likes of Ramsey who can play there as well and Welbeck to come back. This means that Wenger will be looking to the three who have been there the longest to make the difference and that includes The Ox. It gives him the season to go ahead and be the game changer for us and add to his already healthy looking goal tally. If he can get into double figures this season that would really help lighten the load on the likes of Alexis, Walcott & Giroud who will undoubtedly be important to us this season.
Decision making is what will be the maker of a player like The Ox and it’s critical when playing in an attacking role. It’s been mentioned that he would be best suited to the centre of midfield and while I can see him being a driving force in that position, I’m not sure it is at all where he belongs. His first touch isn’t the best and a little brash in its approach as opposed to the caress required for a central midfielder. He can definitely be a box to box man as he has the ability to beat a man, however I could only see that working if we were to play him in Ozil’s position, which lets face it, isn’t practical, especially with Aaron Ramsey waiting in the wings (no pun intended) to come into the number 10 role.. This leaves a wide position as his best bet to make regular appearances this term and where decision making is just as important, however not quite as pressured in terms of responsibility. Out wide he will be able to drive at defenders and deliver end product, both of which we know he can do well. A big season ahead for him but one that has started with more promise than any season preceding it. With Lucas Perez picking up an injury in the EFL cup this week, the focus will well and truly be on the men that can plug that gap and plug it well. There seems to be a breath of fresh air surrounding him at the moment and it’s up to him to now breathe new life into his Arsenal career. Over to you Ox…