Player to watch next season … Oxlade-Chamberlain for Arsenal
On first impression, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has endured a difficult second season at Arsenal, but a decent run in the side towards the end of the campaign suggests he will get the chance to kick on in the 2013/14 season.
Despite remaining a regular fixture in the England set-up this season, making at least the bench in seven of Roy Hodgson’s nine games (including four starts), Arsene Wenger has not used him so frequently.
The Ox only managed 11 league starts and he was often subjected to a bit-part role, which is shown by his 14 substitute appearances.
His big problem lies in his lack of a natural position and especially one that conveniently fits into Wenger’s chosen formation.
Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott are Wenger’s main wide forwards, with both tending to stay wide and break into the box between full back and central defenders.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is an entirely different performer in that he has to be considered more of a midfielder doing a job in a wider role than a natural forward.
He much prefers drifting inside to drive forward in possession and would seemingly be more at home in an attacking central role.
There is little chance in Oxlade-Chamberlain taking the places of central duo Santi Cazorla or Jack Wilshere if both are fit though and so challenging Podolski for a berth on the left flank looks his best chance of regular games.
It is interesting that Arsenal’s win ratio in games when the Ox has started this season is at a very high 71 per cent, while it is only just above 40 per cent without him.
Wenger has been positive on the teenager lately, stating that he has taken huge strides on the pitch since January, namely in the areas of taking responsibility and concentration.
He did feature in eight of Arsenal’s last 10 Premier League games and if he continues to make similar amounts of progress this summer, this should be rewarded with more game-time.
It would certainly be a massive surprise if Oxlade-Chamberlain did not better this year’s grand total of one Premier League goal in the next campaign and he will surely have moments of inspiration if Arsenal are to defy odds of 16/1 to win the top flight in 2014.
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