The Time Has Come For Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain To Step Up At Arsenal
London outfit Arsenal slipped to 6th place in the points table after their loss to the Baggies last weekend and though they still have a chance to finish in the top-4, the FA Cup is the only way Arsene Wenger will be able to save this season at the Emirates. This might see the manager turn his attention towards tying players down to long-term contracts with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil nearing their final year at the club. One such player who is now in demand in England is midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The 23-year old Portsmouth born star moved to the Emirates back in 2011 and his progress in this time more or less encapsulates the progress of the entire squad. He is a utility player at his best for the Gunners as he has never been able to claim a first team spot in the many positions that he has helped his side in over the years. Used extensively on the wing for most of his career, the former Southampton man is yet to reach the heights his potential promised all those years ago. However, at just 23, he has enough time to establish himself as one of the best and he might not find better situations to grab permanent places in the first team for club and country. Here is why this is the perfect time for Oxlade-Chamberlain to hit top gear and let his career take off:
A source of frustration for Arsenal fans, The Ox has easily been one of the best players for Wenger in this barren period. Arsenal have now won just three games in their last nine in all competitions including a couple of victories in the FA Cup. Very few players can keep their head held high after their performances in these games and the 23-year old is one who can certainly look at Wenger in the eye.
Usually deployed on the wing, the absence of Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Mohamed Elneny and Santi Cazorla for various games saw Wenger use the midfielder in a more central role and he has been mighty impressive. In the FA Cup victory over Southampton, Ox showed what he is capable of in a box-to-box role. His quick thinking allows him to dictate play in close quarters while his technique and dribbling ability help him beat his man with ease. Arsene Wenger revealed in a recent interview that he has been impressed with his performances in a central role and this is why Ox should not miss this chance to impress his manager.
Xhaka seems unreliable, Ramsey and Elneny have been decent and Coquelin is not going to be first choice next season. This leaves two midfield places at the Emirates, or even three that can be taken up by Ox next season. A couple of consistent performances from now until the end of the season in a similar position might actually see him start there next season (under Wenger or even under a new manager) and with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil unsettled, he can take up the mantle even in the attack.
Arsenal, as a club, are currently unsettled and Ox will not find a better time to stamp his authority on the first team. He has been in the fringes of the first team for the national side as well and if he can show some consistency, he is not too far away from landing a first team spot under Gareth Southgate in his preparations for the next World Cup.