When Arsenal signed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for a fee reported to be in the region of £12 million in the 2011/2012 season, we were certain were signing a rising star who would come good for the club as he progresses with the club. He was viewed by Arsene Wenger and Chief Scout Steve Rowley as the country’s No 1 attack-minded teenager.
“He is an exciting young player who will provide us with creativity and an offensive quality. Alex is a versatile player who can play in a number of positions. He can play as an attacking centre midfielder, or wide left and right. He is a perceptive passer of the ball and has a great understanding of the game and looks to be a very good team player,” Wenger said at the time.
At that time, the player looked to tick all the boxes. He was fast, pacy and full of confidence. He was never afraid to take players on and it was obvious he was destined for greater things. His stock rose so high that he was even part of Roy Hodgson’s team to Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. As a matter of fact, he started their first game against France ahead of Arsenal colleague, Theo Walcott.
He was rated higher than then Liverpool player, Raheem Sterling and one would have thought it would continue that way.
Fast forward five years after and the story has changed. The player who initially was destined for greatness is now a shadow of his former self. His development has stalled and whenever his name is included in the starting 11, fans are always full of apprehension as you don’t know the player that will turn up.
Over the summer, it was reported by some news outlets that Arsenal are willing to cash in on him which then begs the question: What has happened to the player we once knew? Where is the 18-year old who tormented AC Milan in the Champions League Round of 16 four years ago?
During Arsenal’s preseason tour, The Ox showed flashes of his old self and one would have thought that would be the norm when the season begins. His indecisiveness in the games he has featured in this season calls for concern. To be fair to him though, injuries have not help his cause.
In the Champions League draw against PSG last night, Oxlade-Chamberlain gave another frustrating display. He was a peripheral figure, as Arsenal struggled to gain any foothold in midfield. He was substituted for Olivier Giroud after about 62 minutes. He was subsituted around that time in the 2-1 win over former club Southampton. As a matter of fact, Oxlade-Chamberlain has started four Arsenal games this season and is yet to make it through to the 80th minute of a match in any of them.
How can one then solve a puzzle like The Ox? One minute, he is playing like a beast, the next minute he is playing like a cockroach.
Is his decline in form the fault of the manager? Or is the player at fault for his dip? Will playing him on either flanks bring out the best in him? Or is he going to perform when playing centrally?
The list of questions is endless!
I am even of the opinion that when Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott return to fitness, he might have a hard time getting games. There is no doubt the talent is there. He just needs to work on the basics really and up his game. Will he be getting game time at clubs like City or United or Chelsea playing the way he does for us? I don’t think so!
Alex is 23 years old, though still young, time is running out for him to show he still deserves a place at Arsenal. Arsene Wenger is a patient manager but how long is he willing to wait for the player to come good?
I’m not of the opinion that the player should be sold and I believe the player will still come good, but that is just me. What about the millions of Arsenal fans elsewhere? I really do hope Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain come good and that he does that fast because if he doesn’t, there is only one way this would end!