Keown: Arsenal need a Ljungberg: 3 candidates

Martin Keown is looking for one of the Arsenal side to step up, could it be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Arsenal are in the midst of their closest title run in a decade, but the news Theo Walcott has been ruled out for the rest of the season has stung them hard.

This as much as bouncing back from any defeat, will be a true test of their title mettle.

The scenario is one former defender Martin Keown remembers well, from when teammate Robert Pires sustained a season ending injury and the Gunners recovered to win the Premier League title.

In his Mail column he stated: "Is it a big loss? When we lost Robert Pires in 2002, who played in a similar position and who had a big impact on the team, it was up to someone else to come in.

"Freddie Ljungberg took on that role. He picked up the mantle and scored a lot of goals. It's another reason to win it for your team-mate who has been cut down by injury, and it can happen to any of us. You're only ever one tackle away from being injured."

What Keown is saying, is that mid-way through the season, Arsenal cannot afford to get distracted and lose focus - and need somebody to step up.

So who could be the 'Next Man Up'? The Ljungberg of the 2014 side?

Here are three candidates:

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

The obvious choice, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back from injury at the most opportune time, with Theo Walcott ruled out injured just days ago. He is fresh, and looked dangerous during his performance for Arsenal's under-21 side last night. A telling contribution over the next few months can be crucial, and with the World Cup on the horizon the young winger has every motivation to step up.

Serge Gnabry

Young talent Serge Gnabry appears to get better with every first time appearance. The winger created six goalscoring opportunities against Tottenham, but could find Oxlade-Chamberlain usurps him in the pecking order. Already this season has been a big success for him, but whether he is ready to make the sort of impact Walcott was making prior to his injury could be too much of an ask for him. Given his rapid strides so far however, it's certainly possible.

Santi Cazorla

The Spaniard has had an average start to the season by his standards, and is yet to really step up and show his best form. He scored in their last match against Spurs, a sign he may be coming to the boil at the right time. If Cazorla can step up and play his very best football over the coming months then he could have the sort of impact Martin Keown discussed regarding Ljungberg.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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