Why this Arsenal midfielder should start against Bayern Munich

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Reports suggest Arsene Wenger is deliberating over whether to choose weekend match-winner Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or experienced stalwart Tomas Rosicky.

There is something so exhilarating about a winger speeding their way down the touchline, committing defenders and providing a sucker punch at the end of it all. 

And it was no different when Arsenal took on Liverpool at the Emirates this weekend. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has now had a direct hand in each of the Gunners' last five goals, was the best player on view on Sunday, giving Aly Cissokho a torrid time at left back and providing the two key contributions which saw Arsenal to victory.

His goal showed composure and a nervelessness in front of goal sorely lacking from the Gunners in recent weeks and his assist displayed similar attributes as he picked out Lukas Podolski with a precise cut-back.

He won the penalty a week earlier, of course, in the Anfield humiliation and was the match-winner against Crystal Palace. His return has been nothing if not timely.

Theo Walcott's devastating knee ligament injury looked like it may hamper Arsenal severely and more than first feared, but Chamberlain's impact has given the Gunners an added dimension in the attacking third they have lacked when fielding their more creative talents in the three spots behind Olivier Giroud.

So, the former Southampton winger would feel somewhat aggrieved were he to be dropped for the Bayern Munich clash tomorrow night as Arsene Wenger's side go in search of a result to take to Germany for the return leg.

Wenger could make as many as seven changes to his squad for the meeting between two European heavyweights, according to media reports, and one of those could be Chamberlain.

The returns of Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud are perhaps all expected, but there remains a school of thought that Wenger will turn to his man for the big games in Tomas Rosicky to help shore up midfield numbers and, in the process, offer some much-needed nous to the team.

Rosicky's reliability on the ball and turn of pace over five yards could prove crucial in a game expected to be decided on the finer details, but the raw speed Chamberlain offers could peg Bayern back and enable Arsenal to press their opponents higher.

Since Chamberlain's return - a 2-1 win at Aston Villa - it has been obvious which of the two has had the most impact, as the table below illustrates.

The former Southampton man attempts to take on defenders more than the Czech, although Rosicky does post a more reliable win percentage at 50% to Chamberlain's 32%.

But the Ox - as he has become renowned within the game - is surprisingly more accurate with his goalscoring attempts, having registered 1.17 per appearance and hitting the target with 43% whereas Rosicky has only mustered 0.75 a game at a success rate of 33%.

Another facet to Chamberlain's play which must surely hold some appeal is his ability to whip a ball into the box, something Olivier Giroud may be able to thrive off against the Bayern central defenders.

He manufactures 0.83 crosses per game and though only 0.17 of those have come off, Rosicky fares far worse and offers little threat in that department having attempted 0.25 and carrying out precisely none of them.

The most surprising stat - albeit perhaps due to more minutes on the field - is Chamberlain's touches, having amassed a creditable 37.33 for each of his six outings to Rosicky's 26 in four.

Whether Wenger chooses to include Chamberlain or Rosicky, he will have a willing worker on his hands and someone who can perform multiple functions in his 4-2-3-1 setup.

The Frenchman may even opt to field the man of the moment in a central position, where he relished the task in hand against Crystal Palace with a brace, instead of Wilshere.

His surfeit of midfield options open plenty of doors but Chamberlain could be the key to ruffling a few Bayern feathers when the reigning European champions stride into town.

NameTeamPoChance / appsTotal Contest /apps / appsTotal Score Att / appsOn target Att / appsTotal Cross / appsAcc Cross / appsTouch / appsAppsMins
Tomas Rosicky Arsenal MF 0.25 1.50 0.75 0.75 0.25 0.25 0 26.00 4 138
Alex Ox- Chamberlain Arsenal MF 0 3.17 1.00 1.17 0.50 0.83 0.17 37.33 6 224

image: © wonker

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