The Oxlade-Chamberlain Express is Here
Arsenal signed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for £12m and the youngster featured sparingly for the Gunners in the early part of his career. He made his Premier League debut for Arsenal in that resounding 8-2 thrashing in the hands of Manchester United but he strutted his stuff on his first Carling Cup outing (against Shrewsbury) with a goal thereby making an instant impact.
The Carling Cup was used as a breeding ground for the Ox and he terrorized defenses in the competition, putting up stellar performances against Bolton and Manchester City.
Arsene Wenger clearly had high hopes for the lad ahead of the new year, and he predicted that 2012 will be the year of the Ox,
“In 2012, at the beginning of the year, he will play games. Alex is a talented boy, it is all there – he just needs that toughness in the game and because every game for us is so tight.”
“At Aston Villa last week, again, I could have brought him on and you have the hesitation to do it – but you do not want him to be a little bit over-ruled by the intensity of the game.”
“He is ready to play. Alex is just missing that experience at the top level. You have to throw him a few games.”
The Ox scored a well-taken goal in his Champions League debut against Olympiakos but he had to wait a while to make his mark in the Premier League. He didn’t have much time to make an impact against Swansea but his withdrawal for Andrey Arshavin in the match against Manchester United caused an uprising amongst the same fans that criticized the manager for signing a relatively unknown youngster for £12m.
Arsenal hosted Blackburn after going through a very poor run of form in January, so a swift response was needed. The Gunners ran riot against Steve Kean’s side with the red-hot Robin van Persie bagging a hat-trick, the Ox with a brace while Mikel Arteta and King Thierry Henry completed the rout.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s performance against Blackburn certainly caught the eye and reports are emanating that he had impressed Fabio Capello enough to be selected in for his maiden England call-up that faced the Netherlands later that month. At the end of a productive season that saw the Ox make 26 appearances, score four goals and supply three assists, he was called up by Roy Hodgson to represent England in the European Championships.
After putting up a good performance in England’s curtain raiser against France, the Ox watched from the dugout as Ashley Young continued to disappoint before compounding his personal misery with a penalty miss against Italy. As expected, England bowed out of a penalty shoot-out but unlike previous tournaments, the expectation on the shoulders on the Three Lions wasn’t as huge as before.
Arsenal fans should be excited about the prospect of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in England’s up-coming World Cup qualifiers, for the winger is reportedly set for a free role against Moldova and Ukraine in the coming week. The winger is currently training with England and, after speaking at an FA press conference on Tuesday, it appears that the youngster is ready to prove himself once more in a white shirt.
“We will be looking to push every game and approach it in the same way. To have a coach that lets you express yourself in the right areas of the pitch is massive, and he is also a very good man.”
The idea of Oxlade-Chamberlain expressing himself on a football pitch is something that has petrified many opposition defences since his arrival to the Premier League just 12 months ago. The 19-year-old’s pace and ability to find a pass has already transformed him into an Arsenal regular and, should he continue his fine progression up the Gunners ranks, Oxlade-Chamberlain could be a starter in the England XI come next summer.
If he to be believed, boss, Roy Hodgson, is on the verge of developing this England attack into a more cutthroat, expressive unit. Oxlade-Chamberlain could start on the left with two strikers up front – probably Jermain Defoe and Ashley Young – while James Milner takes up the right.
If England are to play with two strikers and two wingers, Oxlade-Chamberlain has the chance to express himself by forcing his speed and power upon a sat-back Moldova defence. There will be nothing to stop him bombing forward at every opportunity to feed two poaching strikers in the middle.
This Moldova fixture could turn into a typical Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates, where away teams defend for their lives with no intention of going forward, a situation perfect for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who will push his opposition further and further back until it is time to find that intricate pass.
Expression is the key word to England’s new regime, and while Hodgson has regimented the defence over the past six months, what we saw at the European Championships was a team far more confident in going forward. Theo Walcott’s surprised expression when he scored against Sweden tells it all: individual freedom in the England side is something we have lacked for years, a fact never more evident than in results and scores from the last decade.
The old hags of the English squad are slowly fading away and the prospect of seeing the Ox become an England regular is hugely encouraging.
Like the classic case of Wojciech Szczesny usurping Lukasz Fabianski in both club and country, the odds of the Ox usurping Theo Walcott is becoming a reality – if it hasn’t happened already.
Time will tell.
With no Arsenal football to switch my focus to this weekend, I’ll be keeping half an eye on every Gunner representing his nation.
A quick favor guys, the Nigerian Blog Awards for 2012 is coming up soon, and its currently in its nomination phase. Please visit the site and complete the form by entering the address of your favourite blogs in the box corresponding to the appropriate category, keeping the following guidelines in mind:
1. Only one blog can be nominated for each category.
2. Enter the website address of the blog rather than the blog name.
I have a few blogs that I’d like to nominate, if you don’t mind of course.
For Best Collaborative or Group blog, you can’t look no further than Memoirs of a Gooner, an Arsenal blog marshalled by three special Gooners, Yemi Jr, Escobar and Punkenstein. http://www.goonermemoirs.com/
Thanks in anticipation of your nominations.
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