For years now, we’ve known Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a special player but time and time again like Theo Walcott, his performances too have been hindered either by poor form or by untimely injuries that have condemned him to the bench for far too long. But big clubs have big squads for a reason and at Arsenal, injuries are mounting once again which means that this may be the best chance for the Englishman to show himself as the real deal, albeit in midfield this time around.
When he came to the Premier League from Southampton who then played in the Championship, Arsenal was largely seen as a one man army that relied extensively on the prowess of their then inspirational captain, Robin van Persie. That season (2011-12) had seen the departures of Samir Nasri along with Cesc Fabregas from the club and the onus was on the captain of the young side to course them throughout he season, the Dutchman was unstoppable and even though he stole much of limelight, there was special attention being afforded to Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was only a teenager then but was showing signs of greatness.
Fast forward seven years later, Oxlade-Chamberlain is still looked upon with the same hope in a much changed Arsenal side and it is about time he steps up, especially in the absence of Santi Cazorla, who has been missed massively this season. We take a look at some fronts that The Ox must improve upon to make himself a regular in this team:
Fitness and availability are problems that Arsenal have faced with their best players ever since the Invincibles era. Oxlade-Chamberlain too has had his share of problems with injuries that have stalled his progress as a player and the talented player needs to step up his work behind the scenes to an absurd level in order to e able to last the duration of the season and give himself the best possible chance of establishing a first team berth.
The audacity of youth is something that Wenger enjoys in his teams but for The Ox to be considered reliable, he needs to be selective in his take-ons and avoid giving the ball away high up the pitch to prevent counter attacks.
The hallmark of a great player. Consistency is a department that the entire Arsenal side needs to improve upon to have any chance of winning titles. Now that Oxlade-Chamberlain is being played in the central midfield role it becomes more important than ever for him to focus through the game and demand excellence from himself.
While he has managed 22 shots on goal this time around, his conversion has yielded him just 2 goals so far. There’s definitely a huge scope for improvement in that area!
Big Match Attitude
The squad as a whole needs to improve their composure in the big games and it all has to begin at an individual level. The Ox can be the catalyst of change for the team with his talent that needs to be supplemented by some much needed leadership which will make a legend out of him at the club.
Like many other players, the Ox seems to be stuck in the transition between a young player and a reliable professional. For the club’s sake we hope he improves his game with time and gives us performances to savor with Arsenal!