The Ox, like Theo Walcott, failed to impress anyone last season in the Arsenal starting line-up, and they were the two players that most Arsenal fans wanted to be moved on last summer, but what a change this season!
Walcott has been a revelation now he has decided he is a winger and is scoring far more goals than he did as a Number Nine, and now Oxlade-Chamberlain seems to have followed in his footsteps. Despite not starting every game, last night’s brace means he has already scored 5 goals, which has equalled his tally in the whole of last season, so has he done enough to prove to Wenger he should be a regular starter this season?
This is what Le Prof said after last night’s performance from the Ox: “Sometimes you felt like he didn’t deserve to score when he was in front of goal before. Now, I think he has added some belief to his finishing. Now we have hope that whenever he has the ball, something can happen. He’s powerful but he also finishes well and he’s added that to his game. That’s certainly linked with confidence, hard work in training, and he looks to be following Theo Walcott in that way. They are lifting each other but they can also play on both flanks.”
So then Wenger was asked directly if he has now proved he should be a starter in the first XI more often?
Wenger replied: “He’s not a long way away from the starting XI because he played against Ludogorets, he played here which was expected, but Ludogorets was a very important game. He came on against Middlesbrough on Saturday and I feel that he is regularly involved.
“He is not a young player anymore, he is now 23 and at 23 you become a football player who is the finished article. Before 23, you learn your job. At 23, you become more consistent, you know what’s expected of you, you know how to deal with the pressure, with the situation, with the competition inside the squad. But he was so talented, so young. In the national team, so young. People forget that he was still a young player.”
So when does Wenger think he changed? “As a person? I think the quality of his concentration, of his focus, is sharper. He is more determined and he has worked a lot mentally you know, to be really focused and I think it comes out every day in training and now it is starting to come out in the games.”
It is really about time that the Ox showed some of his early potential, but his problem is that it has arrived when there is now enormous competition for places in the Arsenal midfield. The Ox has said that he will try to concentrate on his wing play to have more chance of playing, but with Iwobi and Walcott’s improvement, and the arrival of Lucas Perez, not to mention the imminent return of Aaron Ramsey, means that there is just as much competition for those places!
It’s great for the squad and the fans to see such choice, but it is not so good for Alex’s chances of playing, is it?