How Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is blossoming under Arsene Wenger this season
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s quality is finally being utilised at Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger faces a more than difficult headache when it comes to wingers in his team. Theo Walcott is having the best season of his career, Alex Iwobi appears to have emerged a real star, Lucas Perez is being utilised as a winger to devastating effect – highlighted by his hat-trick against Basel, and Aaron Ramsey is still being forced out wide by Wenger at times as well.
However, the player who is finally being given the time he deserves is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. There’s no question that Wenger had given him a large amount of opportunities, but it seems this is the first one that he has grabbed by the scruff of the neck. His goal and assist against West Ham were the summit of his form as he showed his incredible ability to shoot from distance, and his more than competent vision for the ridiculous Alexis Sanchez goal.
He is repaying Wenger for the faith shown in him. Chamberlain could’ve easily been loaned out like Jack Wilshere or Joel Campbell, or he could easily have been sold after the supposed interest from the likes of Liverpool in the summer. But Wenger made the right decision by holding onto the England starlet. He still has plenty of time to develop and he offers a different presence out wide to the other options up Wenger’s sleeve.
Perez provides a nice balance with Sanchez who wants to find space by filling in the gap up top when needed, and his striker’s instinct is unquestionable. Alex Iwobi tends to find pockets of space between the lines, using quick wall passes and a killer instinct to find the right ball. Walcott offers devastating pace and a much improved final ball and finish, but also has a tendency to come narrow. Ramsey is a midfielder who Wenger uses to counter opposition full backs and provide late runs from out wide, it’s been used to great effect.
However, Chamberlain offers more width than any of his counterparts, and has the best ability of the bunch when it comes to beating a man. Over the years he has linked up so well with the likes of Olivier Giroud because of his ability to put in a dangerous cross, and there are few better in the air than the Frenchman.
The Ox will be hoping to burst his way back into a very competitive England set up under the new regime of Gareth Southgate. Opportunities for the Englishman have been few and far between, largely down to a lack of club football.
Chamberlain can be a devastating substitute as well, his pace, power, and ability to beat a man is something that Arsenal usually lack in their game. This ability proves to be most useful against teams who try to sit back and frustrate the Gunners by restricting their flowing, passing game.
There’s no doubt he has frustrated Arsenal fans, be it through injury or under-performance, but he seems to have turned a corner, just like Arsenal. There seems to be a different atmosphere in the side this year, perhaps through the form of players like Walcott and Chamberlain as well as the signings of Shkodran Mustafi, Granit Xhaka, and Perez.
Chamberlain still has a long way to go to reach his potential, he needs to find the consistency that he has been lacking over the years, but Wenger will be happy with his development this season, and will hope he can help to be the difference between another top four campaign, and a first league title in over a decade.