Tag Archives: Oxlade-Chamberlain


26 Feb

Arsenal have the biggest monkey jumping all over their big, red back at the moment – a trophy drought, which is now heading towards it’s 9th year. This is the big sticking point used to discredit our Club and make our manager an easy target for ridicule, despite the amazing work off-field, which will allow us to excel drastically over the next 10 years while setting us up for the next 100 years.

There have been a few tell-tale signs throughout this season, that Arsenal’s long and tortuous financial battle, has taken a turn for the better, starting with the record-breaking signing of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid. Wenger and Gazidis have mentioned a new strength in competing for top-players and this has been highlighted by the commercial deals that have been negotiated with Emirates and PUMA, which will see their commercial revenue increase by approximately £70m a year. If you factor in, that Arsenal did not lose one key player in the Summer (which was an annual occurrence) and have been at the top of the League for most of the season, while still being in the FA Cup and Champions League, this symbolises a change in direction for the Club.

This leads me to the conclusion that Arsenal need to now focus on getting the monkey of their back… by finally winning a trophy. After going so long without winning a trophy, Arsenal are now perceived to be a Club that are tough participants but rarely deliver winners’ medals’. I find this to be a harsh assessment of Arsenal’s credentials, especially given the circumstances Arsenal have been competing under. I would personally argue that Arsenal over-achieved during the last 8 years but that phase is over now and Arsenal now have a great opportunity to bring the first piece of silverware to The Emirates.

There is an overwhelming amount of pressure looming over Arsenal despite their main competitors having much more expensively assembled squads and this can be detrimental to players who are not used to delivering under pressure. Wenger will always be defiant and suggest his players are equipped to handle pressure, as that is his nature and he never has played down his teams’ hopes in the trophyless 8 years.

WIth Arsenal being one point off the top in the Premier League, in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and in the second-round of the Champions League, my belief is, Arsenal need to put things into perspective and start prioritising. Arsenal have set themselves for a great end to the season and now must go all out for the FA Cup.

There are 3 games left to win the FA Cup and that represents a brilliant opportunity to create history, get the media to quieten down, give the fans the trophy they crave and initiate the beginning of a winning culture at Arsenal. The financial gain behind winning the FA Cup is £1.8m, which is quite a small figure in comparison to finishing 4th place in the League, which is worth approximately £12.8m plus an additional estimate of £30m+ in Champions League qualification money. However, as long as Arsenal challenge for the title, a Champions League place is a certainty, so in theory the financial aspect is covered but still requires a strong final push.

I would be happy if Arsenal put up a strong fight for the title as I would say that met my expectation more so than actually winning the title. For me the Champions League is a good opportunity to test yourselves against the best but the realist in me knows that Arsenal’s squad is not deep enough to go for three trophies. With Arsenal 2-0 down to Bayern Munich and yet to go to The Allianz for the away leg, it would be dangerous to prioritise this over the FA Cup which has been a huge part of Wenger’s Arsenal legacy. The nightmare scenario would see us attempting to win the Champions League competing against Europe’s elite, fall behind in the League and get knocked out of the FA Cup. Horrid. Even George Graham suggested, “One of the questions facing Arsene is whether they play their best team and try to win the tie, which is near impossible, or concentrate on the league.”

I think a huge part of developing winning teams is to take babystep’s by getting the taste for trophies. Arsenal must first overcome the first hurdle of winning a trophy without jeopardising the long-term future of the Club and the FA Cup is their best opportunity of achieving this. Arsenal have done very well to get themselves to this point in the FA Cup, beating Coventry, Tottenham and Liverpool on the way. They now have a huge tie against Everton at The Emirates, which will be tough but if they treat it like a cup final, they can win, which will leave them two games at Wembley from a trophy. This is in a competition where Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham have already been knocked out with the main competitors probably being Arsenal’s next opponents, Everton and none other than Manchester City.

Once this group of players prove they can win a trophy, they can take it to the next level up, from being outsiders for the title or the Champions League by genuinely competing for both and possibly putting the FA Cup on the backburner. I think Arsenal can finish the season strongly as they have done in the past two seasons and now with the emergence of Sanogo, the return to fitness for Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ramsey two-weeks from first-team training, Arsenal could get the boost for required for their Premier League and FA Cup aspirations.




Liverpool vs Arsenal preview: How should the midfield shape up?

7 Feb

Arsenal are going into this game a bit light in midfield – Aaron Ramsey is still at least a month away from the first-team, Mathieu Flamini is suspended and Jack Wilshere is 50/50. The only certainties to be present in the squad are Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arteta is a nailed on starter for the defensive-midfield role and the remaining question is: Who should partner him at Anfield? I am fully aware that we have an Oxlade-Chamberlain that is raring to go in a central-midfield role, after bagging a brace against Crystal Palace, but my preference would be for Rosicky to line-up alongside Arteta.




My reasoning for this is, the ability of Rosicky in getting the game moving at a high-tempo. Rosicky will serve our short-passing game a lot better than Oxlade-Chamberlain and help us to retain possession. With his experience and knowhow I would see no problems in letting Rosicky pull the strings. The intensity and urgency he will bring into midfield will be key at Anfield. His understanding of when to press will also be essential.Another benefit of playing Rosicky will also be, to allow Oxlade-Chamberlain to play in the three that play off the striker (Cazorla-Ozil-Oxlade-Chamberlain).




This will give us a much needed fluidity and flexibility during the game which will allow us to adapt to the situations that will arise. The Ox has a versatility that will make him a big player at Arsenal and in this sort of game I could see him swapping positions with Mesut Ozil to fill in centrally just behind Giroud. With Gerrard being deployed in a deep-lying midfield role, Wenger could instruct The Ox to do a tactical job (ala Weimann) and buzz around Gerrard using his energy and power to disrupt Liverpool’s key passers’ game. The Ox has the technical ability to play there, can get forward in support of our striker and has shown he can score goals. Rosicky can also do this, as he did against Liverpool at The Emirates, but we would lose that much-needed passing ability in midfield.


That unpredictability in our formation could cause Liverpool endless problems as they suffer from a weakened defence (Johnson, Agger, Sakho and Enrique all injured) and a weakened midfield (Lucas injured). With Gerrard not being a natural holding-midfielder and Liverpool likely to have a two-man midfield, Liverpool could struggle tactically in keeping Ozil, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rosicky quiet as they come in off the flanks.

Is Julian Draxler the answer to our left-side “problem”?

27 Jan


Throughout Wenger’s reign as Arsenal manager we have always been used to an attacking-midfielder/inverted winger playing as our left-winger. The likes of Overmars, Pires, Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin, have all filled in at this position, in order to help us keep the ball a lot better – overload in midfield and use our (usually very attacking) left-backs as wingers in attack.


However, these players also needed to be capable of scoring goals or being very creative and racking up the assists – a lot of responsibility is given to these players in Arsenal’s team. They must have the ability to produce moments of magic and literally be our attacking-midfielder and left-winger all-in-one.

More recently, we have had a mixture of Lukas Podolski, Gervinho and Santi Cazorla filling in the role on the left-hand side. At times Tomas Rosicky, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere have also attempted to. This has confirmed to me that we do have a genuine need to get in a player that will command that berth.


Wenger doesn’t have the belief in Podolski to effectively play in this role for Arsenal as he is not in the traditional mould for an Arsenal “left-winger”. Being on the left-hand side, Podolski struggles to make the passes our type of play commands as he is such a left-sided player. Wilshere playing on the left brings the same issue, despite him being more of an attacking-midfielder, it is difficult for him to come inside and make the angled-passes that we need when dominating possession.



At times, Rosicky can play the role but won’t be going down the outside of the full-backs, holding the width and stretching the game as he is very right-sided. Rosicky is excellent coming inside and making different angles with his passes as he also is the expert in using the outside of his boot.

Oxlade-Chamberlain is a young and gifted football-player with such versatility in his game. He is a brilliant winger with trickery and speed. He also has lovely technical ability which is apparent in his crossing and even more so in his passing but for this reason Wenger sees him as a long-term central-midfielder. I like him as a winger, he is great in the one-on-one situation but I think he is a better right-winger more than a left-winger/attacking-midfielder. Gervinho was a great runner, had decent off-the-ball movement but wasn’t clinical technically which meant our overall game-play suffered.


Currently Arsenal’s resident “left-winger” is Santi Cazorla. The maestro that had a blinding first season at Arsenal scoring 12 League goals while playing in the attacking-midfield role, has had his position taken from him by Mesut Ozil and as a result of his flexibility and versatility he has been moved to play on the left. This season has been a stop-start season for Cazorla as he has had to adjust to a new role in the team and has scored only 3 League goals.



We all know Cazorla possesses outstanding quality but could we do better in this particular position? In my opinion, yes. Cazorla has physical limits in terms of being able to “do the full-back”. Cazorla is short, stocky and is not blessed with acceleration to beat full-backs. While he is majestic in his use of the ball he should be never be expected to “skin the full-back” or get to the byline ala Robert Pires despite possibly being the most two-footed player in the League. He is currently a great No.10 “doing a job” for the team and while it works because of our style of short-passing style of football, I am convinced we need a new player there that will be a hybrid winger/attacking-midfielder.


For Arsenal to pursue the signing of Julian Draxler would be ideal in terms of the physical and technical blend of the player. He has great dribbling ability and his close control is equally effective on both feet, making him capable of going down the outside of defenders, stretching the game and holding the width. Couple this with his speed and power while dribbling, makes him a tough player to second-guess in the one-on-one situation.



The player is also very creative, especially as a No.10 and to a degree, this is the bad news. The player has had an outburst as recent as last month, where he stated, “I have now resigned myself to the fact that I am not welcome in the number 10 position here at Schalke. I am still convinced to be as dangerous just outside the centre. Even though I perhaps am the only one who thinks this.”

This highlights Draxler’s desire to play as a No.10 but there is practically no room for Draxler to become our fixed No.10. At the age of 20 and with a reported release-clause of £35m, there is the possibility that Arsenal could splash the cash in order to capture one of the best, young players in world football, who would undoubtedly claim our “left-winger” slot as his own for at least the next 8 years.