The Arsenal and England star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been pretty unlucky on the injury front in the early years of his footballing career, just like many of his Arsenal team mates like Wilshere, Ramsey and all. Even considering that, however, he might have featured more for Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger has often been quite cautious in his use of the Ox and it seems to me that he has been trying to get him to add more to his game. The boss has spoken this week about the young Gunner, as reported by Arsenal.com, saying that he has a lot of great qualities but also suggesting that the player himself can be a little too self critical and should have more belief in his own ability.
Chamberlain certainly has time on his side and the Frenchman is sure that he will have a great career, hopefully with Arsenal, but he also thinks he would do well to take a leaf out of his team mate Alexis Sanchez´ book when it comes to getting more goals.
Wenger said, “For me it is down to the quality of the reception. That means the area you get the ball, and that makes Alexis difficult to mark because he gets into positions where he can score.
“Alex is a good finisher, he gets into good positions and that is what he has to learn from him. You can work on it, knowing where to be at the right moment.
“I see [Alex] train every day, he is dedicated, focused, hungry. His dad said he lacks a bit of self-belief and I can confirm that because he is very critical of himself.
“That’s positive and a sign of top-level sportsmen but you have to find the right balance: not happy with what you do without harming the confidence.
“He is maybe not happy enough with his performance after the games and sees only what he has not done well, not enough of what he has done well.
“He’s 22, he is in the English national team, he plays many games for Arsenal.
“You become a complete player at 23. From 23 to 30 is certainly where you are at your best. He has the future in front and a bright one.”
I sometimes wonder whether Arsenal are using the Ox properly though, and whether Wenger places too many restraints on him which curb his dynamic and attacking instincts. He certainly seems to play with more freedom for England and with four goals from 22 international goals compared with six from his 85 Premier League games you can see the difference in his effectiveness.
So maybe Wenger should learn from how Manchester United are using their new signing Anthony Martial. He is given licence while their tactics of possession and defensive awareness means that Martial is not too worried about losing the ball.
Do you think giving him a little more freedom is just what Arsenal need to get the best out of our promising young star?