Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was one of the few players to come out of Wednesday’s 5-1 defeat against Bayern Munich with any credit as he worked tirelessly for his team and was the only Arsenal player to go right over to applaud the supporters. Although that is the least that could be expected, the rest of the Arsenal players didn’t show it. He was played on the right wing, which has been his main position since breaking into professional football, but his long term future could be in central midfield. That was the position that he excelled in against Hull City last weekend and given Arsenal’s problems in the position, Arsene Wenger may choose to use him there over the coming weeks.
Santi Cazorla has been injured for months and Arsenal have struggled to find a like-for-like replacement for the Spaniard. He is excellent at controlling the tempo and provides dynamism from the middle of the park. That provides the team with an extra layer of attacking threat and that is when Arsenal are at their best. Their win percentage is much better with the Spaniard in the team and his injury has had a negative effect on their season. Oxlade-Chamberlain could be the player to reignite Arsenal in midfield and it is important that he is given a sustained run in the team centrally.
The England international provides something different to the other midfield options at the club as he is dynamic and capable of beating opposition players. Although that isn’t the most important skill for a centre midfielder, it can be useful and suits a team like Arsenal. On the whole, teams look to sit deep against the Gunners as the North London side can be predictable to play against. Oxlade-Chamberlain provides flair, but he is also a hard worker and that is why he can succeed in a central role. His performance against Hull City showed both sides to his game and he deserves more opportunities in the role.
Last weekend, it was his ability to run with the ball that stood out most. He completed five dribbles and managed to make lots of ground for his team. Oxlade-Chamberlain has the ability to cover ground quickly and that provides his team-mates with a few extra seconds in attack. He is similar to Cazorla in that respect. Although Oxlade-Chamberlain relies on his dribbling ability rather than passing like Cazorla. In addition to his dribbling, the Englishman pressed well and completed two ball retrievals and one key pass. There is room for improvement, but the signs are there to suggest that he has a future in the centre of midfield.
It has been a disastrous few weeks for Arsenal as they have fallen out of the title race and look to be heading out of the Champions League. However, the performances and attitude of Oxlade-Chamberlain has been a positive for the club and they need to ensure that he is a part of the long term future at the Emirates Stadium. He understands what it means to play for the club and appears to really care about what is happening on the pitch. That is a rare quality in the modern game and it is something that Arsenal need more of in their squad. The competition on the wing is fierce, while the central midfield area has been a weakness. He should be given a run of games there. His performances against Hull and Bayern Munich have earned him that at least.