Published on The Arsenal Review
It would seem that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is departing The Arsenal.
Latest news – Sky Sports News being the source – is that the England man has turned down a massive rise in the form of £180k per week and sees his future away from The Emirates. The freshest reports are now saying that a bid has been accepted from Chelsea, and Liverpool are also an interested party.
First things first – how in the name of Bergkamp’s holy boots did Oxlade-Chamberlain earn a £180k per week offer?
The Ox has risen to prominence since last season. Our team’s switch to three at the back has seen an opening at wing-back, and Oxlade-Chamberlain took his opportunity with both hands.
He seemed a perfect fit, with his stamina being put to great effect covering in defence whilst roving forward and giving our attack another outlet.
The versatile midfielder made more appearances last season than any in his time at the club, and the second most starts. It appeared as though he was finally ready to seize one of the countless chances he had been given – and hold down a starting spot for an extended amount of time.
What none of us banked on though, is that The Ox wasn’t satisfied at wing-back. No, although he prospered, he wanted more.
Oxlade-Chamberlain feels he warrants a regular spot on the flank, or in central midfield. He also must feel he can obtain this very thing if he departs the club for another – most likely Chelsea or Liverpool.
So, let us all examine his chances of success.
The Ox has nine league goals in all his time at the club. If he aspires to play for Chelsea or Liverpool, those numbers would have to improve drastically if he wishes to make his mark on newer shores.
He primarily plays on the right, so who would his rivals be at each club?
Chelsea Boss Antonio Conte seems to prefer Willian on the right side, occasionally swapping around with Pedro.
Can anyone honestly say The Ox would squeeze either of these established players out of the Blues side?
What of Liverpool? Jurgen Klopp has been settling with players out of position in his side, so surely a player of the ilk of Oxlade-Chamberlain would be a godsend for the German?
Well, as previously mentioned, The Ox isn’t exactly enamoured with playing at wing-back, so James Milner and Albert Moreno can rest easy for the time being. The right wing position has now been filled by new signing Mohamed Salah too.
Oxlade-Chamberlain should perhaps check if the grass is actually greener before he packs his bags.
From being guaranteed a pivotal role through the season, The Ox could actually be getting LESS games. Added to this, he certainly cannot nail down a spot on the wing at either of the clubs that are interested in him. The only way to do so is to provide an end product to his play, or at least a concerted rise from what he produces currently.
His numbers have never done his talent justice. When he bursts into action, Oxlade-Chamberlain has at times disemboweled entire defences. He has given opponents twisted blood and left them clutching at ghosts as he jinked past them with apparent ease.
Then, with the entire pitch open and the choices in front of him, he fluffs his lines.
It is a script well-thumbed by the Arsenal faithful. The other version of this is the same introduction, but with Oxlade-Chamberlain opting to beat another man instead of creating a chance.
At the crux of the plateau in his growth chart – is his decision-making.
This is where his talent hits a wall. You can stand toe-to–toe with the best there has ever been, but
if you do nothing with it then it is futile. The Ox has never quite ridden himself of this problem – and this is the root cause of his battle to start every game.
Injuries have played a part, but not to the same effect of Walcott, Ramsey and Wilshere’s careers.
The Ox has had a myriad of opportunities to establish himself, and has simply failed.
What makes him think that life at Chelsea or Liverpool will be any different?
Arsene Wenger doesn’t want to see one of his young men leave the club. So much time and effort has gone into the player, and the Frenchman must feel The Ox has more to give – hence the ludicrous contract offer.
The bottom line of this whole story is that Wenger has many failings, and chief among them is the faith shown in his players. Even when he is repeatedly burned by his players on the pitch, he continues to show them confidence.
The Ox has been given the same treatment. For a player to still not have a spot in the team rubberstamped even with Wenger’s plentiful ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ cards?
That is down to the player himself.
I think Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is in for a shock if he does leave Arsenal.