Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - set for a breakthrough season?

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - set for a breakthrough season?

After his disappointing 2015/16 season, there were rumours that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be set for a move away from the Emirates Stadium. However, Arsene Wenger is known to show a lot of faith in his players and the England international has made an encouraging start to the new season. He has been one of the bright spots during Arsenal’s opening three matches and is set to finally become a regular at the club. Arsenal have an impressive array of attacking talent, which will make it difficult for Oxlade-Chamberlain, but there is no doubting the quality that the England international possesses. His game has been lacking consistency and that is required at Arsenal, given the competition that he is facing in the squad.

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Last season, he played in 22 league matches, but only started nine times, showing Wenger’s lack of trust in him. His end product was lacking and he wasn’t performing at the level that Arsenal expects. The former Southampton player scored just one goal and failed to contribute a single assist, which highlights how he struggled in the final third. His attempted dribbles per game dropped to 1.7 from 3.6 in the previous campaign. This suggests that he was suffering from a lack of confidence last season and wasn’t prepared to take as many risks as he has been in the past.

He fell out of favour at Arsenal and failed to make England’s Euro 2016 squad as a result. It was a season in which Oxlade-Chamberlain took several steps back and is required to do a lot of work this season to get back to where he was. The winger was one of the most exciting young players in the Premier League, but now at the age of 23, he needs to become more consistent. He is no longer a youngster and needs to turn potential into ability.

During the first three matches of this season, he has been given an opportunity to impress and he has done well. He scored an excellent solo goal against Liverpool, which displayed his dynamism in the final third. The winger beat a number of challenges before firing past Simon Mignolet and that will have given him an early confidence boost. This is important for Oxlade-Chamberlain as he is obviously a player who needs to be feeling good about his game in order to play at his best.

In terms of his dribbling in the first three matches, he has averaged 3.7 dribbles per game, emphasising how confident he is at the moment. He can be an important player for Arsenal this season as the right wing spot is up for grabs and he has the attributes to succeed there. He is direct, quick and has excellent close ball control. His main problem has been his final ball, but he has shown signs of improving that. If he is confident and feels that Wenger believes in him, that could make the difference and allow him to improve his consistency.

It feels like Oxlade-Chamberlain’s final chance to break into the first team and if he fails to do so, he will be in danger of being sold next summer. He will be 24 at the beginning of last season and his age can’t be used to defend his inconsistency any longer. The winger has played over 100 matches for Arsenal and has enough experience to become a regular in the first team. His main competition is Theo Walcott who has started the season in equally impressive form, contributing a goal and an assist during the first two matches. It was expected that Arsenal would bring in a right winger, but that looks unlikely and both Englishmen are eager to make that spot their own. Oxlade-Chamberlain has a great chance to finally have his breakthrough season this year. He needs to take it.