Archive | June, 2013


27 Jun

From as early as the Tottenham game at White Hart Lane it had been obvious that Arsenal’s choice of captain, Thomas Vermaelen, had an issue with the captaincy. Arsenal have since made an informal change of captain, with Mikel Arteta taking the reins effectively and managing to impress many Arsenal fans with his leadership. 

It hasn’t stopped Arsenal fans calling for more experienced leaders and in particular defensive organisers. There is also the section of support who are awaiting the archetypal  British defender that will adopt a no-nonsense approach – somebody that us and the up & coming British players, at Arsenal can identify with.



This is where Ashley Williams, the Wales and Swansea captain comes in. The centre-half, who has just won his biggest honour to date, the Carling Cup, will be looking to finally take the last big step in his career. This is a player that has had to play in all four-tiers of English football with a big opportunity to play in the Champions League. He has had to work his way up to the top and I think that commands a huge respect. 



These types of players are battled-hardened and add a totally different dimension to a very Continental squad at Arsenal. They bring the mentality of grown men, who have worked their way up through the leagues and haven’t had the many luxuries of a lot of the younger, more polished international players at Arsenal. 

There is always an influence, example and inspiration to come from a player like Williams. Let’s also be honest, I wouldn’t suggest he is top class but he has come a long way under the technical Swansea style of play, which makes me believe he would be a good fit at Arsenal. He won’t demand to start every week but I think he would relish the challenge of breaking into the starting eleven and his professional attitude will ensure he is ready when called upon. His experience as captain could be a huge asset for us, as we have lacked leadership at times. 

I’m of the belief that it isn’t just the technical ability alone that makes a player a big player for his club. It’s his mentality, desire to win and leadership skills that can help to raise his team-mates performances and I think Ashley Williams is one of those players that can help to give us solid, Premier League experience which can only enhance our squad depth.


The Ox – Box to Box?

23 Jun

Of course the football season is over and the annual, or should i say, the every 6-month transfer-window meltdown, is soon to be amongst us.

It’s warming up a bit now and there are plenty of rumours on a daily basis regarding some of Arsenal’s supposed transfer targets. There have been incessant transfer rumours since Ivan Gazidis came out with a public announcement, suggesting we have a significant amount of money to spend on investment in the team.

Since this announcement, us Arsenal fans have been awaiting the first announcement of a big signing. We have supposedly purchased 20-year-old Yaya Sanogo from Ligue 2 club Auxerre. The Club haven’t announced it yet, perhaps not wanting to announce another youngster as our first signing of the window. Other than that, we are desperately awaiting news of the world-class players we have been promised.

Amongst all this, what of the potential superstars we have already at the club? In past years we have heard talk of “killing” young players such as Song, Denilson, Bendtner etc. To be fair to them none of these players came with the reputation of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.



The Ox came as a 17-year-old talent with a growing reputation. A strong physique with the technical ability and swagger not generally associated with young, English players. He has great pace and dribbling ability while also being very positive in one-on-one situations with the full-back. Every full-back will say, it is torture having a young, quick, tricky winger, running at you with every opportunity and this is exactly what The Ox will do.

It’s been a rapid rise for The Ox. He is one of the most well-known youngsters in world football despite Wenger’s best efforts to let him develop without the unnecessary spotlight. The thing with The Ox is he is always capable of making something happen in a game, despite how young he is. As much as you try to hold him back, he still has the ability to make a difference. Take the games against AC Milan and Manchester United at The Emirates, in his debut season, as an example.


The Ox was even thrown into the England squad for Euro 2012 by Roy Hodgson despite not even making 30 appearances for Arsenal, albeit some sparkling displays for Arsenal. He even started Englands first group stage game against France. After The Euros, his form had certainly suffered a dip. he came back for pre-season as an international player, had less time to get ready for 2012-2013 season and it was uphill from there. He struggled to establish himself in the team after a couple of niggly injuries and it was a lot for a young Oxlade-Chamberlain to adapt to.

I’ve heard a few comparisons with Theo Walcott. People suggesting that all the attention and fast-tracking into the national squad has hampered Walcott but I am not seeing any similarities in the two. The Ox is confident, extrovert and has a great temperament. Not only that but he is actually a better footballer than Walcott.



These personality traits come out in his game and how he plays. He already looks very comfortable within the England set-up and that speaks volumes about his maturity. He is very popular and assured in himself, possibly taking on a lot of his fathers advice, who is also an England international.



The thing what amazes me about The Ox, is despite his young age, he is very versatile and can be asked to play in a variety of positions. This isn’t easy to ask of a young player. Many have seen him play on the wings but he is supposedly a long-term centre-midfielder in the eyes of Wenger. A lot of fans rate Oxlade-Chamberlain highly but not many are sure how he will perform next season after an inconsistent 2012-2013 season.

Oxlade has the technical and physical capabilities to play in centre-midfield and looking at his attacking performance in the Champions League against AC Milan, it was no wonder that Dutch football legend Marco van Basten described The Ox as “a gem”.

The Ox has been chomping at the bit, rearing to get back into the team and establish himself as a starter. Thats the attitude needed from a lot of youngsters these days. Thats what further impressed me about The Ox and his performance in our crucial, last game of the season away at Newcastle. He had to come onto the pitch to replace our captain and defensive-midfielder, Mikel Arteta.

The Ox had to be mentally ready to step in if any injuries were to come about, and he was. He stepped into the tactical shoes of Arteta, who has been vital in the tactical shape of our team. The Ox had to show us a totally different part of his game. That ability to screen the back-four alongside Aaron Ramsey showed his maturity and his willingness to do a job for the team. He sat in front of the back-four, broke up play, kept the ball moving, got forward when needed, gave us a good energy in midfield and helped us to keep a clean-sheet with a smart, disciplined and tactical performance.

A player like him is he always good to have in the first-eleven mainly because of the possibilities he can give you during the game. He allows you to change your team shape during the game and can give you the ability to overload in attack. His ability to glide past players in midfield is easier for him because of his experience on the wings. This experience will serve him well, just like it has for a player like Moussa Dembele. Not only that but The Ox is consistently a goal threat when he is playing, as he showed most recently while scoring for England against Brazil, and he certainly does possess an attacking instinct. He has good passing ability also which makes him quite a good all-round player.



This skill-set will ensure that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be an effective central-midfielder for Arsenal, sooner rather than later.