The similarities between Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should be obvious. Both are prodigious English talents farmed in Southampton’s academy, that made big moves to Arsenal early on in their careers.
A pair of England internationals that have promised much, but delivered sporadically; both have frustrated Gunners fans during their time in north London.
But where Walcott has been given 10 years to realise his potential with the club, Oxlade-Chamberlain looks to be cut adrift after only just five.
After sustaining an injury during the Champions League tie with Barcelona, Oxlade-Chamberlain will be out of action until the end of April. It has led to reports that Arsenal have finally lost patience with a player that has suffered a spate of knocks in the last two seasons.
However, cutting ties with a 22-year-old that hasn’t actually had much of a chance to develop due to those fitness issues seems a little odd for Arsenal considering how long they’ve persisted with Walcott.
Like Oxlade-Chamberlain, the forward has had his own troubles with injury, most notably the cruciate knee ligament rupture he suffered in 2013/14 that limited to just 18 all-competition appearances.
At 26 Walcott is far from the finished article either. He is still learning how to play as an out-and-out striker. This season was the first time he was used exclusively in that role and even that idea had to be shelved so during a Gunners injury crisis.
During his 10 years with the Emirates outfit, Walcott has only had one season in which he was really pivotal to the cause. That year, in 2012/13, he scored 21 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions. His next best haul is 13.
Despite a lack of real progression, Arsenal and Arsene Wenger have stuck by him, yet they are willing to cast aside Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is four years younger. Why?
Yes, the Ox’s goal record leaves a lot to be desired, but so does Walcott’s. With a continued run in the side, free from injury, there’s no reason why Oxlade-Chamberlain can’t develop into the player many expect him to be.
But are Arsenal fans really willing to see him do so for another team? Especially when they’ve suffered for so long waiting for Walcott to do the same?
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.