Oxlade-Chamberlain Stakes His Claim

Jamie Sanderson September 28, 2011 Editorials 23 Comments

He’s the big prospect with the big name who arrived for a big fee this summer, and tonight, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sent his clearest message yet that he’s ready for a role on the big stage.

With Gervinho injured and Theo Walcott resting a minor knee problem, Oxlade-Chamberlain was handed a starting role as Arsenal looked for their first three points in Champions League Group F against a potentially frustrating Olympiakos side. It was his debut in the competition, but within minutes, he looked at home.

His confidence began to ooze after some efficient early touches, and just as the Emirates faithful were beginning to expect excitement from the 18-year-old, he delivered. An intelligent run across the front of the Olympiakos back four created uncertainty, but Oxlade-Chamberlain kept his composure to lash the ball across Franco Costanzo into the net.

Costanzo told the media before kick off that Arsenal lacked the threat of previous years, but his sides nervous defence struggled to deal with Oxlade-Chamberlain’s unpredictability, direct pace and threat from crosses.

It’s those qualities he showcased against Shrewsbury Town in the Carling Cup last week, but as promising a performance as that was, it’s easy to get carried away against a League Two outfit. Tonight, Olympiakos were a notable upgrade, and offered tests to Oxlade-Chamberlain’s defensive side, in reading of situations, tracking back and shielding the ball.

It’s fair to say the results were mixed. He protected possession well in the early stages, but pass selection under pressure was inconsistent. He did track back on a handful of occasions after losing the ball, which was a big positive and something Arsène Wenger has been working on with Alex, but reading of dangerous situations will require more of the Frenchman’s time.

However, it’s going forward where Oxlade-Chamberlain is really at his best, and his performance will no doubt have given Wenger something to think about ahead of Sunday’s North London derby. The often frustrating Walcott should be available, but the temptation will be there to stick with a younger model, who has all the talent, spirit and heart to make an impact.

All in all, tonight was an important step for Oxlade-Chamberlain – a player who almost a year to the day was substituted at half time during Southampton’s clash with Yeovil Town, after struggling to get the better of the Town defence.

Fast forward 12 months, and he’s put the ball firmly in Wenger’s court ahead of one of Arsenal’s biggest games of the season.


  • Started brilliant then faded. Think he got injured, saw him talking with the physio at the end, you could see he wasnt at full frottle after the goal, but still he had some exellent moments

    • Gunner from the south

      this goal is important cos it will give the guy good confidence… he did fade into the game, but doesn’t every young top prospect do that in their first european match, let alone champions league match… what’s interesting is that with this goal, alex oxlade-chamberlain is the youngest english player to score in the uefa champions league… now that something to remember for him and for all the fans… he can become a great player, maybe even better than we expect, and to top it all of he is a real gunner, who loves the team, and who turned down the current champions of england and finalists of the champions legue to join arsenal… top guy…

  • did well but has a lot to work on still
    no need to throw him into PL, Theo will probably start

  • Good game for him but his tracking back was actually awful tonight and what strikes me the most is the jogging instead of using his pace to really TRACK BACK. Left Sagna without protection time after time (Sagna himself werent at his best either). But anyway he is young and I think he will learn. Important that other players in the team remindes him how important it is do really do you job. But I guess we lack those kind of players, thats our big problem really.
    But you have to give him cred for his offensive display, he is really determined in his game and shows real technique and quality.

    Say what you will about Theo, but he always gives 100% in his defensive work. Not the best defensively but at least he is there doing his best. Arshavin though… what a pile of crap. A fucking disgrace for this football club. All he does on the pitch is to put his team mates in (more)trouble. If I were an Arsenal player I would beat the crap out of him in the changing room for not showing any kind of commitment.

  • yes theo can start with alex upfront instead of arshavin, i was seriously wondering why is he still on the pitch walking instead of running to track back. he almost cost us the game when he failed to help santos in closing down the opponent, gave him so much space to shoot and fortunately he hit the bar.
    anyway, he’s slowly getting out of first team for sure. with park and miyaichi still waiting for their chance, arshavin days are numbered.

  • definely wouldnt play him against spurs, thats more then chucking him in at the deep end. Hes had a good couple performances having him play against a spurs side all pumped up will just undo all the work hes done if he has a poor game.

  • spurs are not all that.
    they got lucky with few good results against poor sides.
    the persons that shouldnt start are arshavin and chamakh. these 2 wasters will cost us the game.
    you should also noticed that alex chamberlain is fearless, if selected he will go there and play football, he’s more confident than some of our experienced players.

  • Hard to keep class down. I’d like to see both Ox and Theo on the pitch together, with Robin playing behind Theo. That would be unbelievable.

    I’m not sure he should be rushed against Spurs, but what the Ox gives this squad is depth. We haven’t had real depth at any position in some time. There is certainly depth in midfield and the wings. Just one more CB and one striker and the squad will have much needed depth at every position. That’s something Arsenal fans haven’t been able to say for quite some time.

  • Steve of Chiang Mai

    In my opinion Walcott, along with many of our players suffer from the intense scrutiny given by the bulk of Arsenal blogs etc. Other players who we compare Theo with week in and week out rarely have every move, every moment on the ball scrutinized. But I came across and interesting stat the other day in a 7amkickoff piece about RvP. Rating Robin’s goals and assists/games played he was far and away the best in the league. But interestingly Theo was 3rd. For all his supposed lack of a football brain, one dimensional play, he is outstandingly effective.

    1. Robin Van Persie 1.17

    2. Dimitar Berbatov 0.98

    3. Theo Walcott 0.85

    4. Javier Hernandez 0.83

    5. Carlos Tevez 0.75

    6. Nani 0.75

    When you consider Rooney, Drogba, Van der Vaart and even Cesc finished below him it is easy to see why Arsene continues to play him while many scream from the sidelines.

    • This does not show him being not being one dimensional at all. It shows that when put it his most affective spot then he is dangerous which is normally receiving balls in behind defenders. How ever without Fabregas there anymore to play those balls through I bet that statistic goes down.

  • a good goal,wouldnt class it as brilliant..the chap seems to the forceful run in him,which the likes of theo lack,yet theo has given us plenty to ponder about especially the goals.yes he can absolutely frustrating but saying we should play alex before theo is somewhat absurb..he’s just started his second game,would i risk him against spurs?certainly looks better than arshavin so why not thrust him into the thick of things like LAgooner poninted out what we lack at the moment is quality depth i honestly cant see a world class team like barcelona playing the likes of chamakh,johan,or even arshavin especially arshavin though he did score against them but teams like barca,real,city dont dwell on past performances all care about is today & now hence when a guy like afellay is rarely used i wonder whether most of our player would even make their bench..i dont know what people really mean by experience.this season our reserver looks strong why not promote some of them to the first team the one player who really stands out from the reservers is ozyakup,picking out the ong range passes are a real art that only the elite players do on a regular basis.so lets throw in a few suprises at white hart lane.

    • I actually believe that AOC with the first team players is a better option then Theo as a winger. When AOC had issues was when no body was showing for the ball. Other then that, the boy is class. Theo, we just sit around preying he does not touch the ball unless he is right in front of goal. The funniest thing (other than watching Chamahk) is to see Walcott dribbling at a player 1 v 1 and knowing he is just going to run straight into the defender.

  • Bottomline was great going forward but the Achilles heel of the AFC squad outside midfielders suck at defending!

  • The Ox is a natural finisher and he loves Arsenal. If he is fit, he’ll have to have a go at the spuds.

    And yes, Theo is productive, his pace unlocks defences and he can provide or score. However, Theo can’t seem to strike the ball any other way but side-footed, to the left of the keeper (across goal).

    The Ox may not be quite as fast as Theo but he is quick and seems a more complete package for his age. Instant results :)

    • Gunner from the south

      i can remember another player that used to score 90% goals across goal… how does his name go, oh yeah thierry henry ;)…

  • If Gervinho comes through fit; Arsene has to play the Ox, Gervinho and RvP upfront.

    Djourou, Rosicky, Almunia, Arshavin, Vela, Bolteho, Benayoun and Diaby should not be on our payroll next season. They don’t fit to wear the shirt.

    • botelho?
      he hasnt even kicked a ball in arsenal shirt.
      what did benayoun do? we have alot of young players that will benefit from his experience.
      people like ozzy,ramsey, aneke needs to be nurtured
      i am glad you are not arsene wenger

  • I hope Rosicky watch the game cus he was complaining about Ramsey while it was himself who played a bad ball… and not once but a few times. I used to like Rosicky but he is doing things too complicated. It seems like he have a really hard time to play it simple and fast.

    Next season or in Jan we need to get at least 3 new players in and Rosicky, Arshavin for sure must get out. I can’t stand Arshavin anymore. He makes more trouble than good for the team.

    • Be easy mate. The issue is not that Rosicky and Arshavin are good squad players. The issue is that they are relied on way to much and that is because we failed to bring in quality replacements for Nasri and Fabregas. What is the difference between Benyoun, Arshavin and Rosicky at this stage in there careers? Not much

    • if they are relied on too much its an direct issue. arshavin is not a good squad player for me he still stand on the pitch far too much. He literally standing still on the pitch when the ball is dropped. He was awful going forward too. 65% passes complete is so bad. And it was against olympiacos. Its not a awful team but at the same time they are no world beaters and we are suppose to win CL with him on the team… no way in hell. Rosicky also dropped the ball way too many times. Just came back from injury sure but still.

  • Here’s his goal vs Olympiakos…

    Bright prospect.

  • He definitely started of extremely well but after he lost the ball a couple times, he was pretty bad from then on. It doesn’t really matter tho because he talent is there for all to see. One of the things that is keeping me somewhat excited about this current squad.

    For all those that said why are we signing another teenager. He was by far the best signing we made this summer.

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