Because of a minor injury problem to his foot, Arsenal had to face the tough trip to the Britannia Stadium to take on Stoke City without our main man and king of assists Mesut Ozil. And with Arsenal also missing the usual suspects to replace the German international, with Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere also out of action, Arsene Wenger turned to the young England international Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
With mixed results I would say. The Ox was never going to be able to do what Ozil does for Arsenal because he is a different type of player altogether, and even when he has played in the centre of midfield for us instead of on one of the flanks it has been in the box-to-box role rather than the number 10 position.
So how did he do? Well according to the manager he performed pretty well and suggested that he could be an option to cover for Ozil there in the future, as Wenger’s post match comments on the Arsenal website reveal. The Frenchman saw positive things from his young player even though he was not able to score or provide the assist that would have earned Arsenal all three points.
He said, “He had very interesting moments in the game where he showed his qualities and how he can get out of pressure, go past people and get into the final third. In the future it can be a very interesting position for him. I played him in a 4-3-3 today. Normally we play a 4-2-3-1 as players like to push forward and I think it is a position that suits him well.”
However, there were some very different reactions to Chamberlain’s performance on social media from some Arsenal fans, as a report on the HITC website shows. Some Gooners thought the Ox was awful and might as well not have been on the pitch, picking up especially on his tendency to lose the ball.
How can Wenger and the fans see things so differently? A quick look at the stats from the game on Squawka.com show the Ox rated higher than the other midfielders Ramsey, Walcott, Flamini and Campbell.
His passing accuracy of 78 percent was just below the team average of 79 while Campbell was up on 86 percent. But I think that Wenger had given him licence to be a more adventurous and that will mean he loses the ball more as he takes more risks.
I think we have to give the Ox a bit more leeway and more game time to show what he can do. What do you guys think?