Committed football fans often like to think that they know better than just about anybody else. As a result you get people without any kind of expertise waxing lyrical on the abysmal state of Arsenal’s medical team, you get fans lining up summer moves for their respective clubs and when the starting line-ups are released you get a slew of devotees ready to stick their oar in and tell anybody who will listen how the manager has got it all wrong.
When it comes to Arsenal this usually means a group of fans huffing and puffing about Aaron Ramsey’s inclusion on the team sheet and the lack of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the starting line-up. But do these naysayers really know more than Arsene Wenger? Should the Ox have been given more opportunities this season?
It’s fair to say that the Ox has offered up a good number of cameo appearances this season. Though Wenger always seems loathe to give him any longer than 20 minutes at the end of a game, he usually manages to breathe fresh life into Arsenal’s performance. His direct running, pace and close control are great aspects to have on your side with the clock counting down and the opposition full-back’s legs beginning to tire.
What’s more he’s proven himself capable of picking out a pass and engineering an effective Arsenal attack. So why doesn’t he get more opportunities to start games?
Beyond a jaw-dropping performance against AC Milan in the second-leg of the Champions League he hasn’t had too many opportunities to be a part of the Gunner’s starting line-up. Whilst he was remarkable against Milan, spraying the ball around with ease and causing their defense all kinds of problems, he’s been unable to replicate this kind of form when playing against the likes of Chelsea in a recent Premier League outing.
He can occasionally find himself drifting through games having a limited effect on the flow of games. This may be down to a lack of good positional sense, or great marking from opposition sides, but it’s got to be a matter of concern for a side with a desire for a top four finish. That’s to say: the Ox will be a great player, but in games of great import there’s no use starting a player who sometimes struggles to make his mark.
Arsene Wenger knows Chamberlain better than any of us fans and thus knows his limits better than anybody else. If he’s not selecting him then he’s got a good reason for not doing so.
He’s shown enough this season that it’s clear he’s got a big future ahead of him. For the moment however, it strikes me that he’s best used as a super-sub and that a starting role for the youngster may have to wait another season or so.
What’s your take? Should the Ox be granted a more prominent role?
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