Arsene Wenger will be overjoyed with the renaissance of Alex ‘The Ox’ Oxlade-Chamberlain in recent weeks, with the England international showing signs of getting back to his dangerous best.
Chamberlain is a part of the highly rated ‘British core’ of Arsenal, which was supposed to be the future of the team following an exodus of players during the first couple of years of this decade. He was signed from Southampton as a 17 year old for a hefty fee reported to be around £15m in August 2011 (via BBC Sport), before being fast tracked into the first team soon after.
Like many other Arsenal players, the Ox has suffered from a significant number of injury setbacks in his career, and although this has affected his development, he has still managed to stick around in the Arsenal squad regularly.
Gifted with great pace and inventive dribbling ability, the Ox has been a player who at times has frustrated fans with his propensity for losing the ball in crucial parts of the pitch. This season in particular he has been very unlucky, with a couple of his defensive errors leading to goals and an inadvertent own goal to his name. The performances put in by Joel Campbell in the past couple of months have pushed him out of the starting berth he occupied on the right wing, and he has found chances to impress hard to come by because of our precarious position in the Champions League and because of our title charge being in full swing.
However, in his past few games he has stepped up his contribution and has posed a real attacking threat to the opposition goal. His burst of pace and dribbling ability are known throughout the Premier League, and defenders therefore tend to stand off him so as to not allow him to go past them – allowing him plenty of space to get a shot away. In his previous game he had a tremendous effort strike the bar and against Stoke he forced Jack Butland into a terrific save from a shot outside the box. A second shot seemed to be bound for goal, but was blocked off by Laurent Koscielny’s leg.
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Although his shooting has not produced a goal yet, Arsene Wenger and the Gunners faithful alike will be happy to see that the boy is getting back his confidence with every game. Those who said Chamberlain had reached the end of his development potential may have to eat humble pie soon and the Ox will be looking to make a telling contribution to Arsenal’s title charge.