One of the most noticeable things about the way Arsenal struggled against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night, and there were plenty of them, was that we looked like we had much less energy than the Germans. They seemed faster and fitter all over the pitch.
Arsene Wenger could not really explain why that was and it should not have been the case, despite a tough game against Man City on the previous Saturday. But it was also noticeable that the introduction of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Mesut Ozil on the hour mark.
The young England international is all about pace, power and direct running and that seems to speed the whole Arsenal team up. So far this season, however, he has only started two games. Maybe that is because he has been working back to fitness, maybe just because of the competition for places, as he suggests in his interview on Arsenal.com, or maybe the boss sees him as a great sub to bring on towards the end of a game as the opponents are tiring. But the Ox says he is fully fit now and raring to go if called upon.
Chamberlain declared, “I feel good in myself and when I get told to play I will be chomping at the bit to help the team. It is up to the boss to decide when that is but I will be ready.
“I have been [dealing with competition for places] for four years. I know what this game is all about. I am a young lad in a very good Arsenal squad and I understand that.
“I want to play as much as I can but I have bought into the idea of what our team wants to do this season and that means it will need all of us to pull our weight to start games or come off the bench. We have to be 100 per cent focused for when our chances come.
“I think that is the kind of player I like to be, I like to come on and make an impact with the game by running with the ball or just generally, bringing an injection into the side.
“I will continue to try and do that. We have a lot of players capable of doing that. Once everyone fires on all cylinders we can get the results we are looking for.”
With a really important Premier League game tomorrow, I think it might be time to hand the Ox his third start of the season, because Aston Villa are confident and flying high and there game is all about energy as well. If the Gunners don’t match that, we could be blown away again early on and bringing him on as a sub will be too little, too late.
Take Ozil out of the firing line because the German does not look fit to me, he was blowing like a steam train when Wenger took him off in Germany, and put the 21-year old on one of the flanks with Alexis on the other. That should give Villa something to think about. What do you think Gooners?