Position : Winger/Attacking midfielder
Nation : England
2011/2012 Appearances : 26 (11 as sub)
‘The Ox’, a 18 year old winger from Southampton, drew lot of attention, when he moved from the South Coast to Arsenal for £12 million over the summer. Many criticized Arsene Wenger for bringing another teenager, when clearly experience was required. However, the young winger has quickly gone on to become one of the crowd favorites at Arsenal.
Here is a look at the season of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
He replaced another debutant, Francis Coquelin, in the ill fated game at Old Trafford. His first full start came in the League Cup against Shrewsbury, where he put Arsenal into the lead, with a fine 25 yard shot, which squirmed under the keeper. He was an unused sub against Bolton, but started his first Champions League match against Olympiakos, where he scored a delightful goal off his left foot. He constantly proved to be a menace to the Greek side’s defence, as the Gunners held on to a narrow 2-1 win. He played in the 2-1 win Carling Cup win over Bolton.
He had a lively outing against Manchester City in the Carling Cup loss at home. He wouldn’t feature in the league till December when he was an unused sub against Wigan, but started in the deadrubber away Champions League tie at Olympiakos, where the Gunners lost 3-1.
His next start came in the FA Cup 3rd round tie against Leeds, where despite his industry, he never managed to carve out any meaningful chances. He came on as a late sub against Swansea, which ended in a 3-2 defeat.
To everyone’s surprise, Chamberlain was named in the starting lineup against Manchester United at home. He won the man of the match award for his brilliant overall play. Always a menace to United’s defence, he also set up Robin van Persie in the 71st minute. There was a huge chorus of boos, when the young winger was bought off and replaced by the out of sorts Andrey Arshavin. He was in electric form again, against Aston Villa, as the Gunners recovered from 2-0 down to win 3-2. He got another start against Bolton, where he looked dangerous again. He scored twice against Blackburn Rovers, as Arsenal won 7-1.
He struggled against Sunderland, in the next league game, and was a late sub against Milan, in the 4-0 loss. He put in a hard working display against Sunderland in the FA Cup, but scored an unfortunate own goal as Arsenal were knocked out. He came on as late subs in wins over Tottenham and Liverpool
His next big game was to come against Milan, in the second leg, where he won the man of the match award. Playing as a central midfielder, owing to the spate of injuries, the Englishman braved the likes of van Bommel, Nocerino, Emmanuelson in midfield, to run his own show. His corner was headed in by Laurent Koscielny, and then he dictated numerous plays as Arsenal dominated the first half. He was fouled by Mesbah and Nocerino, to win a penalty, which was converted by van Persie. He carried on playing despite an injury, but had to be bought off, as it was clearly causing him some strain. He was described by Dutch legend Marco van Basten as a ‘gem’.
He started the next game, against Newcastle, where he was well marshalled by the Geordies’ defence, but the Gunners won 2-1. He missed the game against Everton and appeared as a late sub against Aston Villa, QPR, Manchester City and Wigan. He got a start against Chelsea, where he looked subdued, by a negative Blues’ side. He came on as a sub against Norwich, and had a useful few minutes, providing some creativity.
Here are few features of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain‘s game.
1. Midfield Play
Chamberlain has shown his versatility, when playing as a central midfielder. He has great pace and vision, and can be a great if he continues to work hard. He is a fantastic dribbler, and isn’t fazed by physical opposition, as he himself is well built.
2. Wing Play
At times, he does look short of space on the wings, and probably Wenger will look to slowly convert him to a central role. Despite this, he has shown great will to cut in and create chances.
If closed down, he can struggle, but he has shown immense maturity in being able to orchestrate play from midfield, and picking out runs of teammates.
SUMMARY AND RATING
There is no doubt that Chamberlain will be a big player for Arsenal in years to come along the likes of Wilshere, Walcott, Gibbs. He is English, young, determined and talented. He just needs to remain focussed and remain humble, as he is now. He gets a 7.5.