Earlier this week we saw the mighty Barcelona play Arsenal in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League clash. Lionel Messi shone for Barcelona and scored two important away goals for his side before the tie heads to the Nou Camp in three weeks time for the second leg.
Defensively-wise Arsenal were doing pretty well and a 1-0 loss wouldn’t have been too bad until a clumsy challenge, from the recently introduced Flamini, gave away a penalty, another goal and more or less ended Arsenal’s chances of progressing.
It was another interesting night for England international Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was somewhat of a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up after only being a late substitute in Arsenal’s previous match versus Hull City. His performance on Tuesday summed up how his career at Arsenal has been so far, plenty of promise but ended up delivering nothing of significance.
The winger missed the best chance Arsenal had on the night and he also overran the ball on a counter attack for Arsenal, which ended up with him being clattered by Javier Mascherano, summing up a frustrating game for him.
Heading into the 2012 European Championships ‘The Ox’ was regarded as one to watch for England and a potential match-winner due to his quick pace and versatility but he wasn’t yet a proven-match winner.
With the 2016 Euros approaching at the end of this season has that much really changed? In the past four years for the 22 year old, it would be hard to argue that it has.
The issues that Oxlade-Chamberlain faced on Tuesday against Barcelona aren’t actually all down to him. Had he been playing more regularly for Arsenal, he would surely of had the composure to finish the chance that presented itself in front of goal and again, if he’d been playing more for Arsene Wenger’s side, would he of been able to take on Mascherano, escape being clattered, and create a chance for a team mate?
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s season has been marginally better than another Arsenal player – Jack Wilshere. Both have been unlucky with injuries over the years and flitted in and out of the Arsenal side and the England set up but when actually fit, Chamberlain has looked a little lost at Arsenal this season. Time waits for no one in football and Oxlade-Chamberlain surely can’t be regarded as a wonder kid with bags of potential anymore, he’s 23 in August and needs to start delivering the goods. Will this be at Arsenal or should the midfielder look for a move away from The Gunners?
A start for Oxlade-Chamberlain on Sunday against Manchester United and a run of games on the back of this would do the world of good for his confidence but this is unlikely to happen with the rest and rotate policy that Wenger implements at Arsenal. If Oxlade-Chamberlain continues to be in and out of the Arsenal side as they look to capture the Premier League title then surely a move away from the club, where he made his Premier League debut five years ago, would be the best option for him.
Opportunities to play more regularly and make an impact at a new club can only be a good thing for the ex-Southampton player. He’s still got bags of potential but surely at this stage in his career he needs a club where he can start week-in week-out and use his pace and skill to put defenders on the back foot and win games for his side, like he has occasionally done during his time at Arsenal.
Written by Cain Wilkes.
Featured image: Some rights reserved by Ronnie Macdonald.