Of course the football season is over and the annual, or should i say, the every 6-month transfer-window meltdown, is soon to be amongst us.
It’s warming up a bit now and there are plenty of rumours on a daily basis regarding some of Arsenal’s supposed transfer targets. There have been incessant transfer rumours since Ivan Gazidis came out with a public announcement, suggesting we have a significant amount of money to spend on investment in the team.
Since this announcement, us Arsenal fans have been awaiting the first announcement of a big signing. We have supposedly purchased 20-year-old Yaya Sanogo from Ligue 2 club Auxerre. The Club haven’t announced it yet, perhaps not wanting to announce another youngster as our first signing of the window. Other than that, we are desperately awaiting news of the world-class players we have been promised.
Amongst all this, what of the potential superstars we have already at the club? In past years we have heard talk of “killing” young players such as Song, Denilson, Bendtner etc. To be fair to them none of these players came with the reputation of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
THE OX LEAVING SANTON FOR DEAD
The Ox came as a 17-year-old talent with a growing reputation. A strong physique with the technical ability and swagger not generally associated with young, English players. He has great pace and dribbling ability while also being very positive in one-on-one situations with the full-back. Every full-back will say, it is torture having a young, quick, tricky winger, running at you with every opportunity and this is exactly what The Ox will do.
It’s been a rapid rise for The Ox. He is one of the most well-known youngsters in world football despite Wenger’s best efforts to let him develop without the unnecessary spotlight. The thing with The Ox is he is always capable of making something happen in a game, despite how young he is. As much as you try to hold him back, he still has the ability to make a difference, take the games against AC Milan and Manchester United at The Emirates, in his debut season, as an example.
The Ox was even thrown into the England squad for Euro 2012 by Roy Hodgson despite not even making 30 appearances for Arsenal, albeit some sparkling displays for Arsenal. He even started Englands first group stage game against France. After The Euros, his form had certainly suffered a dip. he came back for pre-season as an international player, had less time to get ready for 2012-2013 season and it was uphill from there. He struggled to establish himself in the team after a couple of niggly injuries and it was a lot for a young Oxlade-Chamberlain to adapt to.
I’ve heard a few comparisons with Theo Walcott. People suggesting that all the attention and fast-tracking into the national squad has hampered Walcott but I am not seeing any similarities in the two. The Ox is confident, extrovert and has a great temperament. Not only that but he is actually a better footballer than Walcott.
THE OX AND WALCOTT
These personality traits come out in his game and how he plays. He already looks very comfortable within the England set-up and that speaks volumes about his maturity. He is very popular and assured in himself, possibly taking on a lot of his fathers advice, who is also an England international.
OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN: STRUGGLED FOR CONSISTENCY
The thing what amazes me about The Ox, is despite his young age, he is very versatile and can be asked to play in a variety of positions. This isn’t easy to ask of a young player. Many have seen him play on the wings but he is supposedly a long-term centre-midfielder in the eyes of Wenger. A lot of fans rate Oxlade-Chamberlain highly but not many are sure how he will perform next season after an inconsistent 2012-2013 season.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is already showing he has the technical and physical capabilities to play in centre-midfield and looking back at his attacking performance in the Champions League against AC Milan, it was no wonder that Dutch football legend Marco van Basten described The Ox as 'a gem.'
The Ox has been chomping at the bit, raring to get back into the team and establish himself as a starter. That's the attitude needed from a lot of youngsters these days. That's what further impressed me about The Ox and his performance in our crucial, last game of the season away at Newcastle, when he had to come onto the pitch to replace our captain and defensive-midfielder, Mikel Arteta.
The Ox had to be mentally ready to step in if any injuries were to come about, and he was. He stepped into the tactical shoes of Arteta, who has been vital in the tactical shape of our team. The Ox had to show us a totally different part of his game.
That ability to screen the back-four alongside Aaron Ramsey showed his maturity and his willingness to do a job for the team. He sat in front of the back-four, broke up play, kept the ball moving, got forward when needed, giving Arsenal a good energy in midfield and helping them to keep a clean-sheet with a smart, disciplined and tactical performance.
A player like him is always good to have available mainly because of the possibilities he can give you during the game. He allows you to change your team shape during the match and can give you the ability to overload in attack.
His ability to glide past players in midfield is easier for him because of his experience on the wings. This experience will serve him well, just like it has for a player like Moussa Dembele.
Not only that but The Ox is consistently a goal threat when he is playing, as he showed most recently while scoring for England against Brazil, and he certainly does possess an attacking instinct. He has good passing ability also which makes him quite a good all-round player.
This skill set will ensure that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be an effective central-midfielder for Arsenal, sooner rather than later.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald