Thoughts on the Ox’s Return to Full Fitness
With the absence of Theo Walcott to injury, Arsenal fans went into panic mode but with the Ox returning to full fitness, it seems as if he’s going to get a chance to stake his claim for a first-team berth. The Ox played 45 minutes for the Arsenal Under-21s in their 1-0 win over Fulham and he’s very delighted to playing football again after a lengthy layoff,
“It was the first match I’ve played in five months so it was more about getting the minutes under my belt and getting used to being back on a football pitch.
“On the ball I know I can do a lot better than that but it takes a few weeks, maybe even a month, to get back to your full sharpness. Obviously I wasn’t at my full fitness here and it was quite hard, but the main thing was that I got through it and that is a positive. It is just really good to be back.
“It’s never easy having an injury, especially when it’s your first long-term one because you are not used to it and not sure how it will pan out. When I look back on it’s been a good learning curve, but at the same time it is somewhere you don’t want to be.
“I am just thankful that I got through it and I’ll look to push on from here.
His teammate, Carl Jenkinson, has stated that his arrival is a big boost for the club while Per Mertesacker believes that he can make a great impact in the remainder of the campaign. The Ox might be spurred by these quotes from his teammates but I don’t expect him to work straight into the team because there are quite a lot of players above him in the pecking order.
Jack Wilshere put up a couple of quality performances in that position while Tomas Rosicky has strutted his stuff there as well. In the event where Lukas Podolski is to start a game from the left flank, Arsene Wenger can deploy Santi Cazorla on the right flank. Then there’s a certain Serge Gnabry waiting eagerly to show what he’s made of after a scintillating performance in the FA Cup derby victory over Tottenham.
Arsene Wenger will need every fit player he can get his hands on in the run-in for the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup because this seems to be the season the trophy drought could come to an end. The club has shown a level of consistency required by champions and at this point in time, they lead the Premier League table with a point above fellow title hopefuls, Manchester City.
The manager is also delighted to have the Ox back, but he admits that he’s not Theo Walcott’s direct replacement,
“I would have no hesitation. “I don’t know yet. The most important thing is that he played and came through it well. We’ll see how he is but he’s been out for five months. It takes some time to play in the Premier League.
“It’s good to have him back. But [Walcott and him] are different types of players. Oxlade-Chamberlain is a bit more of a midfielder and Walcott is more a striker type. One doesn’t compensate the other one because they are different players.”
The manager believes that the Ox is better suited to play in central midfield rather than the flanks, and he has put up some breathtaking performances in that position. With the likes of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey bossing things at middle of the park, I don’t see the Ox getting a run-out in that position anytime soon.
However, it’s good to have him back in the mix. Let’s just hope that he can make a telling contribution between now and May.
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