If Arsene Wenger had every single player available to him, then it would probably not be the England international star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain starting alongside Francis Coquelin in the centre of our midfield later today. For me the first choice would be Santi Cazorla and then Granit Xhaka, but I do feel that having to play the Ox could work for Wenger and the Gunners at Stamford Bridge.
For one thing he has plenty of energy and pace and both of those attributes will be in great demand against an in form Chelsea who, with the likes of Kante, Willian and Hazard, have plenty of energy and work rate of their own. Even though he will not be the deepest lying midfielder for Arsenal, the Ox will need to help out defensively but with Coquelin in front of the back four he will also hope to get forward and help the Gunners attack and that is his main strength.
The Ox is in good form and his confidence will be high after his MOTM display in the FA cup last weekend and he really does offer something different going forward. He should also feel good about facing Chelsea as it was his goal that beat them at Wembley in the Community Shield to end Wenger’s run of games against Mourinho without a win.
Arsenal will need more than a good game from the Ox though, and perhaps the anger that the boss admitted to Arsenal.com that everyone felt after everything went against us against Watford in midweek will be the spark the team needs to produce their best football.
The Frenchman said, “We try to prepare them as well as we can and I think we made a big effort to prepare well for Tuesday night, but subconsciously it wasn’t there. I must also say that we were punished by the fact that we were 2-0 down after 13 minutes. Everything went against us on the night. In the preparation on the night, I didn’t detect any lack of concentration from the players.
“Of course [they were angry and upset], you are not at that level if you don’t care about winning or losing. These guys are highly concerned and highly disappointed when they don’t win. At our level it is really from winning, from the desire to win… and when you don’t we are of course frustrated and angry.”
Can that anger and the Ox be two big weapons for Arsenal in this must-win game?