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Thoughts on the Ox’s Return to Full Fitness

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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.

Sayonara.

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Arsenal Enquires About Jackson Martinez and the Return of the Ox

Wanted: Arsenal have made an approach for Porto striker Jackson Martinez (above)

With Theo Walcott missing the remainder of the campaign and the Gunners sweating over the fitness of Olivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner, Lukas Podolski seems like the likeliest candidate to hold the fort till either Giroud or Bendtner return to full fitness. The German Machine has had a couple of appearances as the center forward but he hasn’t fully convinced Arsenal fans that he has what it takes to play that role. He’s better suited to his left wing role where he’s most effective.

With this in mind, Arsene Wenger knows that he has to delve into the transfer market to bring a center forward that would share the burden with Giroud because in as much as Nicklas Bendtner has done well to work his way back to the hearts of the fans, he has not signed a new deal and he has just six months left on his contract, which means that he can still be approached by any club.

Arsenal was heavily linked with Atletico Madrid’s hot-shot, Diego Costa, and according to the Mirror, the club’s hierarchy has released a statement notifying the predators of European football that their prized asset isn’t going anywhere in January. The Gunners have also set their sights on the young Real Madrid protege, Alvaro Morata, and the Mail reports that the Gunners are hoping to complete a short-term loan deal for the forward this transfer window.

With Morata on the fringes at Real Madrid, he would be hoping for the deal to come to fruition but the Mail has also reported that Arsenal are making enquiries for FC Porto’s Colombian forward, Jackson Martinez, if talks between the club and Real Madrid over Morata breaks down.

Jackson Martinez joined FC Porto last season and caught the eye scoring 34 goals in 43 games, with 26 goals in 30 league games as well as a couple of goals in the club’s Champions League campaign before they were ousted by Malaga in the first knockout round. This season, Jackson has been firing on all cylinders and according to WhoScored, he has netted 12 goals in 14 Liga Sagres matches.

On the international scene, Martinez along with the legendary Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez played key roles in Colombia’s qualification to the World Cup. Falcao’s exploits in Atletico Madrid and AS Monaco has proven that goalscorers from the Portuguese League can be very prolific and from the few games I’ve watched Jackson Martinez play, I believe he’s the real deal.

I’ll keep you updated as more news unfolds.

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The loss of a key player like Walcott is a very heavy blow to Arsenal but there are so many players that can put in good shifts in his absence. This season, the Englishman has had some spells on the sidelines with an abdominal problem and in the course of his recuperation, Arsene Wenger has used Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Serge Gnabry to devastating effect in some games and ineffectual performances in others.

However, Theo Walcott’s “heir apparent”, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is fully fit again and he has returned to training after suffering an injury on the first game of the season. The Ox faced a lengthy lay-off after he suffered some ligament damage on his knee following a rash tackle from Aston Villa’s Antonio Luna and he was seen with clutches after the game.

Oxlade-Chamberlain: Suffered a knee injury

The Ox has been out for over four months, so it will take a long while before he gets back to the level of fitness required to hit top gear. A couple of Under-21 games should be on the cards for the English speedster and it would be heartwarming seeing the youngster on the pitch after an eternity out.

Since breaking out of the scene in 2011, the Ox has notched up 60 appearances for the Gunners, scoring six goals. He’s used more as an impact substitute but his finest hour in an Arsenal jersey came in the Champions League win against AC Milan at the Emirates where he was in scintillating form.

The lad is happy to be back in contention and he’s hoping to be part of Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad that would be on a plane to Brazil this summer,

“As a young guy growing up watching football and watching World Cups, this will be my first one [that I can play in]. Obviously I went to the Euros, which was an amazing experience – and that’s a massive achievement for me personally, especially as an 18-year-old boy. That was really special.

“But the World Cup is always that little bit more special because it’s the world stage. If I was able to be selected and go to Brazil it would be a dream come true and something that I’m definitely striving towards.

“Although for now I’m just focused on getting back in and around the Arsenal team and helping us do well this season. But as you mentioned, [going to] the World Cup is definitely something I would like to achieve.”

Going to the World Cup at the age of 20 would definitely be an awesome experience for the Ox but we as Arsenal fans would him to put his head and focus on his club. He should remember that it’s his performances at club level that would determine if he deserves a place or not.

The official website published a gallery of pictures showing the Ox training with the rest of the lad. Worth a peek.

Sayonara.

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