Back in July, in one of my first columns for Fresh Arsenal, I stated that this could be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s year. It’s only December and I’m pleased so say my prediction was bang on, as the youngster has made up for missing out almost the entirety of last season with some truly stellar performances.
I compared Oxlade-Chamberlain’s growth to what we have seen in recent years with Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, which I admit was a bold claim considering that both those players have gone on to become an integral part of the Arsenal team. However, Oxlade-Chamberlain is showing that although bold, I was once again right.
Excluding Alexis Sanchez, Oxlade-Chamberlain has been by far the best on-field performer. In my eyes he’s actually doing better than the Chilean, as Alexis was brought for those performances and they were expected of him. For Oxlade-Chamberlain however, it’s different, as he comes back off a long injury lay-off and tries to fight into an Arsenal side that’s full of midfield strength.
The concern with Oxlade-Chamberlain was where he would fit in, Arsene Wenger states he believes his best position is in the middle of the park but with the likes of Ramsey, Wilshere, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, amongst others, it would be extremely difficult for him to push his way into that area of the line-up.
That left the flanks for him, where he would still face stiff competition from Theo Walcott, Serge Gnabry and Joel Campbell, amongst others. However Oxlade-Chamberlain has made the position his own and has now become one of the first names to go on the scoresheet.
The only thing that is missing from his game currently is goals but, having said that, his contribution to the team has been fantastic. Against Galatasaray he showed the best of his ability, driving forward to set up Aaron Ramsey’s first goal of the evening. That’s where his talent truly is- with the ball at his feet, with room to run into. This was a game where he proved his qualities as a central midfielder also.
Oxlade-Chamberlain does something that many have failed to do in recent years, which is providing a link between Arsenal’s defence and the attack. If the Gunners are to compete for trophies this year, then Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be an integral part of the team. He is a game changer.
He is one of those players that can be silent for long durations of the game, before then finding his stride and turning the tide of the match. At the moment though, he is impressing from the first minute to the last- which is great to see for a player with such potential and one that is still extremely young.
2015 is definitely a year that could be dubbed the year of the Ox.