Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade Chamberlain has been with the Gunners for over 5 years now after arriving in North London from Southampton as a teenage prospect. But in his time at the club, it’s unfortunate that he hasn’t quite progressed as expected nor hoped.
There have been various reasons behind his lack of impact at Arsenal, largely due to inconsistency as well as injury problems. However besides these factors there’s no debating that the Ox has been poor in his performances and especially regarding his return of goals and assists. For the position that he is often used in as a winger, the Ox simply doesn’t make enough of an impact on the team for such a vital position on the pitch. A winger is expected to contribute highly when it comes to the team scoring goals and assists, but for Oxlade Chamberlain he just doesn’t seem cut out for the job at the moment.
One argument that has been made is that he isn’t at the standard that Arsenal expect from him, but the Ox himself has now come out to say that perhaps he isn’t being played in the right position at Arsenal.
Whilst on international duty with England, Oxlade Chamberlain told the media: “Given the opportunity, I do enjoy playing in central midfield and last week in training with England I was playing more centrally. I really enjoyed that. At the moment, the general dynamic at Arsenal is that we have got a lot of central midfielders who are more specialists in that position and out of that group of players, if you were going to put me in there, I’d be the one who stood out as someone who could play on the wing.
“I see myself more as a winger for Arsenal as a result. Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Granit Xhaka, who has just come in, Jack Wilshere, when he’s back, Mohamed Elneny and Aaron Ramsey, when he’s fit. They are all big players for us and out-and-out central midfielders, so I am more focused on playing wide and adding what I can out there for now.”
Chamberlain is suggesting that perhaps he would prefer to play in the centre of midfield rather than as a winger. The English international has played in both positions, for club and country, although he has been used primarily on the wing at Arsenal.
Although Chamberlain is still in the early years of his career, after five years at Arsenal and little change in his development, time does seem to be running out for the player. Chamberlain is no longer a future prospect at Arsenal, but he is instead supposed to be a established player in the squad now. The issue is that he isn’t exactly performing to the standards that Arsenal set to be regarded as a first team regular and for that reason if Chamberlain doesn’t prove himself, he could soon be facing an exit from the Emirates. It has already been established earlier in the season that Chamberlain was reportedly listed for a transfer away from the club this summer, but instead it was Joel Campbell that left the club on loan.
The other point of discussion is that should he be played as a central midfielder, rather than on the wing? In my opinion Chamberlain has worked well in the centre of midfield in the past and typically the position isn’t so reliant on scoring goals or getting assists. It could therefore be a role that may suit the player well, however it doesn’t solve Chamberlain’s lack of consistency, ability and confidence on the pitch. The other issue is that of course as Chamberlain lists, there are various other players already competing for a place on the pitch, so if he is struggling for game time on the wings, then he isn’t going to get much luck in the middle.
Personally I think that the England international does still have a chance to make it big at Arsenal, but he really needs to put the work in this season to prove that he is ready to make that step up to being a first team regular. Chamberlain has a youth graduate in Alex Iwobi already ahead of him in the pecking order and with Walcott also beginning to shine this season as well, it’s going to be a tough season for the Ox to prove himself to Arsene Wenger.
Will he get the chance?