Arsene Wenger believes Oxlade-Chamberlain’s best position is more central, and sees him as a deeper lying playmaking midfielder like Steven Gerrard.
When he first arrived in 2011, The Ox was an instant hit on the wing with the Gunners, but has demonstrated his aptitude for playing in central midfield throughout his relatively young Arsenal career.
The 20-year-old produced a mature performance against Newcastle in Arsenal’s crunch time last season, coming off the bench for the injured Mikel Arteta, and this is where Wenger feels his best position is – in a deeper box-to-box midfield role.
The Arsenal boss hailed Oxlade-Chamberlain’s versatility, but confirmed he still has high hopes for him in a central role in the future. He told Arsenal’s official website:
At the moment he is still in formation. It is good for his education as he plays left, right and centrally when needed. After [the age of] 23 or 24 you settle in a definite position.
He will be deeper as he has a good long ball, penetration from deep and a good quality to distribute and penetrate individually. Certainly he has the same qualities to Steven Gerrard.
He is a bit of a Ramsey type.
The Gunners have a huge amount of talent in central midfield so opportunities will be hard to come by, however Wenger feels on the international stage he could provide an interesting option for England manager Roy Hodgson.
The Ox has proved his ability to play in a central role with his starring appearance for the Three Lions in their 2-2 draw against Brazil last summer where he scored a stunner.
The Arsenal boss continued:
He has a good opportunity. I think he will be in Roy Hodgson’s plans as he can play centrally and out wide. On that front England do not have too many players.
He had a big impact when he came on in that game against Brazil, especially in central midfield – and deep central midfield. His future will be there.
We have witnessed glimpses of The Ox in central midfield, but for the time being he will be most useful in wider positions. He will struggle to oust the likes of Wilshere, Ramsey, Ozil Arteta etc in the middle for some time, however he adds depth and options for Cup competitions and should injuries strike.
For now though we can look forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain returning to the first team fold and staking a claim for regular playing time on the wing in Walcott’s absence, starting with some minutes against Aston Villa on Monday night.