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Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – The Ox With A Bright Future

Arsenal produced one of their greatest performances this season in Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night and were only a whisker away from advancing. They might have lost a couple millions of match revenues, but the spirit shown will be a huge boost in the race for top four in the Premier League.

For Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the game is worth more than that.

Without Arteta and Ramsey, it was not surprised to see Walcott, Robin Van Persie, Gervinho and Chamberlain all on the team sheet, but nobody would think Arsene Wenger would stuck with the usual 4-3-3 formation.

Chamberlain was assigned a deeper role, playing alongside Alex Song and Tomas Rosicky in midfield, and was given the space of the entire left side of the midfield. While a winger as experienced as Giggs would struggle in positioning when first moving to a more central role, Chamberlain demonstrated his versatility and adaptability with command.

The 18 year-old did not put a single wrong foot in the first half when Arsenal dominated the Italian Giant. His passing decisions were excellent, maintaining the balance between penetrating the defence and controlling tempo. His willingness to track back halted threats from the Abate and El Shaarawy and many was surprised but also pleased to see him making a crucial block on Ibrahimovic inside the box early in the 2nd half, even though it induced the injury that eventually forced him to limp off.

On the other end of the field, he often troubled defenders with his daring direct and strong runs, notably winning Arsenal a penalty before half-time as he was too much to deal with for Nocerino and Champions League debutant Mesbah, putting them only one goal away from pulling a draw. Chamberlain’s bravery in running at defenders is a great contrast to Theo Walcott, who often shies away from challenging the full backs, but only crowds the midfield by cutting in from the byline.

Although Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott are both fantastic wingers, maybe Alex Chamberlain is someone the new (or next) England manager should rely on in Euro 2012. Most of the flair of England’s midfield comes from the wingers, but Lennon and Walcott are far too predictable in attacking moves. The Ox, together with Adam Johnson, provides that extra bit of spark to bring a new dimension in attack. They could well be the X-factor of the game.

It may not be 2012, nor 2014; but undoubtedly, this young man has a great future ahead, justifying Wenger’s investment last summer (potentially topping Walcott’s 12M pounds by 3M). Nonetheless we have witnessed numerously how injuries could curtail the development of a young talents and The Ox needs to stay strong and injury-free if he is to flourish in the future. No matter what, on this night of mission improbable, Alex Chamberlain makes one big step closer to a probable call up to the England squad.

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