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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Keep or Sell?

It’s been a quiet news cycle for Arsenal. When the summer kicked off it seemed like we could be in for a turbulent season of activity and yet so far, except for signing Kolasinic, it’s been nothing but speculation and innuendo. However, that could change with the transfer window set to officially open in a few short days.

One of the players being linked in transfer-rumor bingo, is none other than young master Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Like many of Arsenal’s British core, he is an enigma wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in an enigma.

He’s another player that Arsenal have on the books that divides so much opinion. Some are outright “keep him.” And why not? He’s dynamic, can make things happen, has speed, and clearly at his age has room for improvement. Then there are others who are out and out “sell him.” The argument there is that he hasn’t delivered on the promise he had, he has issues holding on to the ball too long, and can’t defend.

Then you have the likes of me. I honestly couldn’t care if he stays or goes. How do you like that indecisiveness? Fact is he is a good young player, with plenty of potential but also has plenty of flaws in his game that don’t mark him as an irreplaceable player.
But to be fair we’ll look at everything and let you decide for yourself.

In a recent article some were saying that Ox himself was contemplating a move away because he hadn’t gained the trust of Arsene Wenger. This has to be one of the biggest pieces of BS I read in my time away from blogging. Like many of his players, Wenger has played Ox to a fault. He’s been played when he is out of form that it has been to the detriment of others who may have been more fit and more suitable at times.

Many argue that Ox’s poor form is being played out wide when a role in the central part of the midfield would be better suited to him. Still Wenger persists with him out wide even after saying he does see the Ox as a CM player. But if we look at one of the biggest arguments AGAINST the Ox, his ability to be smarter with the ball, you can understand we might be able to glean why Ox is still played out wide.

CMS have responsibilities in and out of possession to ensure the midfield 3 don’t become overloaded and can also contribute contribute to attacks. They must be effective on the ball, be creative, tactically aware, possess good ball retention and passing skills as well as the ability to press and defend.

One of the biggest complaints against Ox is his decision making the ball resulting in poor ball retention skills and creating the impression that he is tactically inaware of what is going on around him. Throw in poor defensive skills and its no wonder that Wenger persists with him out wide. The hope is that Ox builds those traits by playing out wide because if he makes the mistakes he makes out wide as a central midfielder he creates a gap in the midfield that weakens the way Arsenal want to play.

Slow development along with his repeated injuries is in my opinion what has kept Ox out wide. And to some extent you feel sorry for him because you wonder if he gets a good long run of health would he develop enough to make the CM role his own.

However, at some point the player has to take responsibility as well. He has played over the better part of 5 seasons out wide and only a handful of games through the middle. The result is the same is technical deficiencies hurt his ability to progress.

But let’s not kill the lad completely because the move to 3-4-3 has seen Ox revitalized as a RWB. The role suits him and he has looked much better in the wing back role than in any other role we’ve seen him in.

If Arsenal persist with the 3-4-3 the question then becomes who plays that RWB spot? Is it Hector Bellerin who has received loving glances from Barcelona or is it Ox who would likely prefer to be a CM? The CM role would also seem to have a block in it as Aaron Ramsey who was the Euro’s best midfielder last year, also looks comfortable in the 3-4-3.

We could see Ox go and while it would be disappointing to see another player come to Arsenal on so much promise but yet fail to deliver. Or we could see him stay and see him prosper, move to the Central Midfield and become the star we hope would become. Either way, I’m ok. What about you?

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