Originally posted on Arsenal Mania.
At the time of writing, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has made a century of Premier League appearances. That is an average of twenty appearances per season. More than enough, you could argue, for a burgeoning talent to show a hint of progression.
The Ox however, has plateaued.
In those 100 showings for his club, he has garnered seven goals and eleven assists. Hardly the fruits of a world-class youngster. Of course, he has been beset by injuries, but there have been long spells of play between these ailments and what has become abundantly clear, is that the 22year old Englishman has fallen behind his own projection chart.
All of our precocious Englishmen have – at one stage or another – taken leaps and bounds in their career. Theo Walcott, despite his awful form this campaign, has shown enough in previous years to at least cling onto some hope that he will get to those levels again. Jack Wilshere, riddled with injury, at one point had his central midfield spot for his country tied down and was being tagged as England’s answer to all of their problems in his deep-lying playmaker role. Even Calum Chambers has put in performances in different positions that indicate he has a lot more to offer.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is making the alarming error of doing exactly the same things he did when he burst upon the scene. Beloved by a lot of fans for his ability to go past a defender, but on the rare occasions when he does manage to complete the manoeuvre and take the ball past his man, his end product is frequently woeful. His penchant for losing possession has cost us dear on more than one occasion and the prediction that he would one day be the engine in the centre of Arsenal’s midfield looks to be further away than ever.
He has had many seasons to correct these flaws, but they are still evident. Under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger and his myriad of knowledge, he still seems to be the young boy who joined us from Southampton in 2011. Something has to change.
Whether it be a questionable work ethic or just that he has yet to burst out of the figurative chrysalis remains to be seen, but change is what is needed if we are to finally see what The Ox is capable of.
What has worked for some of his teammates is a loan move. A stint at a club where he will play regularly and gain another side to his game. Jack Wilshere often refers to his tenure at Bolton Wanderers in glowing terms. Aaron Ramsey began his comeback with great spells at Nottingham Forest and Cardiff. Carl Jenkinson – The Ox’s banter partner – has flourished at West Ham United. A move to a side who will play him with regularity and coax the desire back into his game.
Of course, a loan move isn’t always fruitful – just ask Serge Gnabry – but Oxlade-Chamberlain is treading water at Arsenal. It may not be the case,but he seems content to play intermittently, and when given a chance in the team, there hasn’t been games where his presence in the side screams for a continued selection. Little flashes of genius are all we witness, enough to keep the faith, but not enough to say he is first team material.
The Ox must grow, and he can do that with a loan move to a club of the standing of Bournemouth, Watford or West Bromwich Albion. It may hurt his ego a little, but if he stays on his current path, a new manager may not be as sympathetic as Wenger.
A spell away from home comforts – to completely concentrate on his football – could be the catalyst for his career and for Arsenal to finally reap the rewards that are tantalisingly close.