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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Gives his Manager Something to Think About

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring, driving into the penalty area before finishing past Reading's Ali Al-Habsi

Match Report Match HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

Last night’s clash with Reading was a testament of the depth of the current Arsenal squad. As predicted, Emiliano Martinez played in goal with Kieran Gibbs, Rob Holding, Gabriel Paulista and Carl Jenkinson in front of him. Jenks was clearly elated in returning to first team football after such a long time out of the game. In midfield, Mohamed Elneny played alongside AInsely Maitland-Niles and Alex Iwobi with Lucas Perez flanked by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jeff Reine-Adelaide.

It was a very interesting game as the fringe players played very well and it would have been a dream return for Jenkinson when he was clean through on goal but his shot got parried to his path by Ali Al-Habsi. Jenks had a second bite of the cherry but his header looped over the bar. The Gunners opened the scoring when the Ox bore down on goal and blasted a shot to Al Habsi’s far post, giving the keeper no chance to make a save. he had attempted the same kinda effort early on but it sailed off the mark by a lick of paint. After a fairly balanced second half, Oxlade-Chamberlain scored what proved to be the winner with a lashed effort that deflected past the Reading goalie and that put the game beyond doubt.

There was a cameo appearance for Chris Willock and it was good seeing Olivier Giroud back in action after quite a long time out. He had one powerful header that was saved by the goalie and he can pat himself on the back for a good performance as he assisted the goal that sealed off the game for his club. Arsenal’s reward for the win over Reading is a quarterfinal clash against Southampton. The Gunners had faced them a few weeks ago and had Santi Cazorla to thank as his late penalty changed one point to three in an instant. Elsewhere, Manchester United would host West Ham, Liverpool would host Leeds and Hull City plays Newcastle.

For those that don’t know, this is turning out to be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain best scoring return for the club as he has already netted five goals for the club this season. He got his first goal in the curtain raiser of the season against Liverpool, got into the party in the trouncing of Ludogorets but the EFL Cup seems to be the competition he savors the most with three goals so far.

One wonders if his virtuoso performances in recent weeks would swing things in his favor with the games coming thick and fast. Following Arsenal’s draw with Middlesbrough, Arsene Wenger would want the lads to bounce back against the struggling Sunderland and he would want his team to be fired up for that game. With many first team regulars rested, there would be a couple that would be raring for more action and I’m sure the Ox falls into this category.

Following a slump of form, he lost his place in the side as Wenger changed his outlook but he has done his bit to turn up with good performances and now, it’s down to the manager to decide whether he deserves a first team berth in the Premier League game this weekend.

At least, he has given his manager something to think about.

Sayonara

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Does Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Deserve a New Deal with Arsenal?

oxlade-chamberlain.jpg

The first set of Champions League fixtures were concluded yesterday, with some teams standing out with a string of impressive results. With me having more focus on the English teams, it was nice seeing Leicester City bounce back from their disappointment at New Anfield with a resounding 3-0 win over Club Brugge. Riyad Mahrez was one player that needed some goals to raise his confidence as he has looked like a man bereft of it in recent weeks. Many people were waiting to see what the English champions had to offer in Europe and I’m sure those that placed their bets in the team were not disappointed.

Elsewhere, Sergio Aguero continued his amazing goalscoring form with back to back hat-tricks in the Champions League, bringing his tally this season to nine goals in five games. Tottenham, on the hand, bottled their opening game at home to AS Monaco and I wasn’t surprised because it was so Tottenham of them. Bottling things since the creation of the beautiful game in the 1800’s.

Arsenal had a hot and cold performance against PSG with Alexis Sanchez canceling out Edinson Cavani’s opener as both sides sharing the spoils. With Ludogorets and FC Basel providing opposition, both sides would have to gain maximum points against them and the clash between Arsenal and PSG at the Emirates could determine the winner of the group but that’s me making speculations. Football doesn’t actually work that way.

However, I have been concerned about the performances of certain players in the team, with a certain Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain coming to mind. Astonishingly, he began the campaign well with a brilliant preseason, wowing the fans with some beautiful football and scoring some memorable goals, raising their hopes that he would finally realize that untapped potential this season. Wenger has also found a way to accommodate the lad in the first team this season but it’s fair to say that the Ox hasn’t lived up to expectations.

Hey, I don’t expect him to go all Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi on us, but at least, show some output from all the direct play. He also has a knack for holding onto the ball a bit too long and on the final third, he has been found wanting. In the four games he has started this season, he has struggled badly and was eventually substituted. You’d be surprised to know that the Ox is just 23, as he has stuck around for quite some time, spending five years with the Gunners, but it seems like Arsenal is stalling on offering him a new contract, as he currently has two years left on his current £65,000 per week deal.

Ox has also struggled with injuries in his fledgling Arsenal career and I’m hoping he would succeed at the club, but when it was stated that the Gunners were open for the lad to move last summer, it raises a lot of questions. For a lad that cost a whopping £12m as a teenager from Southampton, the Gunners are still hopeful that he could prove to be the real deal but time is running out of the lad. While the Ox continues to struggle to impose himself, a certain young Nigerian, Alex Iwobi, has been in great form and he even has two assists to his name this season. With Iwobi impressing, the Ox would soon find himself relegated to the bench, with Alexis Sanchez on the left, Iwobi / Aaron Ramsey on the right while Olivier Giroud and Lucas Perez battle for right to spearhead Arsenal’s attack.

Does the Ox deserve a new deal? I’d say yes for the following reasons.

  1. He’s a young Englishman that can command a mammoth fee if the Gunners finally decide to cut their losses and let him go. They would certainly take cue from the Serge Gnabry situation to ensure that are not hamstrung by another club looking for their players. We live in a world where Englishmen attract the juiciest fees, so Arsenal will be no different.
  2. I feel he would come good some time because he has some reserves of potential in him. Yes, he’s 23 and isn’t the 18-year-old exciting prospect we signed in 2011, but if he can show some improvement in his performances, we would definitely want him to stick around for a while.

With so much football left to play this season, I’m hoping for the Ox to get his act right, so he could see himself at a new club next summer.

Bonus Reading: Arsenal Stalling Over the Ox’s Contract as Time is Running Out on his Career – The Independent

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Thoughts on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s Performances and Injury

The dust that had Barcelona written over it has settled with the Gunners returning to Premier League duties ahead of tomorrow’s clash with fierce rivals, Injury Manchester United.

Louis van Gaal’s side is terribly ravaged with injuries but he still managed to assemble a squad that took FC Midtjylland to the cleaners in the Europa League. Arsenal is a team that has had its fair share of injury problems too, with Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta currently at the treatment table.

However, they’d be joined by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain that suffered an injury after a collision with Javier Mascherano on Tuesday. In all honesty, it could have been an injury that would have been avoided if the Ox wasn’t too clumsy with the ball, but that has been his story this season – all direct and determined with the ball but no end product. He had a chance to make himself a hero when he was left unmarked in the six-yard box with Barcelona’s goalie on the ground but he fired a shot that gave off collective groans by everyone connected with Arsenal.

This was the season I thought the Ox was going to hit those heights expected of him but I have been very wrong. The Englishman has featured in 33 games this season and he has managed to score just two goals – the opener at the Community Shield way back in August and the match clincher against Bournemouth.

With his latest injury, the Ox is set to spend some more time on the sidelines, paving the way for either Joel Campbell and Theo Walcott to stake claims for a first team berth. Walcott will always be known for his prowess in front of goal but he has been reduced to being an impact player this season because of his somewhat peripheral performances. Joel Campbell on the other hand has shown his work rate and some measure of end product in the final third but somehow he has proved to be nothing but just a bit part squad player.

I really like the way Chamberlain loves to take on the opposition without fear but his output in the final third has always been a problem and as it stands, it doesn’t look like changing.

I’m pretty sure that Aaron Ramsey will take that spot on the right wing when a player like Santi Cazorla is fit but the Welsh Jesus continues to enjoy a run out in his preferred central role.

I wish Chamberlain all the best and I hope he recovers soon.

Sayonara