Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain went to Arsenal as a very promising young talent and he still very much is. However, he has failed to maintain the sort of high class and quality displays which got him bought by Arsenal in the first place and which he showed last season.
A large part of this has to be with the way he has been used this season. He’s started only 11 games and has come off the bench on seven occasions. He’s bagged one goal but he’s never really had the run of games to form any sort of consistency.
He’s also been used in a different sort of Arsenal side this season. Arsene Wenger has tended to use a three-pronged attack with a central striker and wide men aiding that player.
There is a solid argument that Oxlade-Chamberlain is not sorted to that style of play, as his best performances have come when he’s been used as an out and out wide man, which is his best position.
There is also the fact he’s still a very young man at only 19-years-old. He’s by no means the finished product and he’s still learning in a side which hasn’t yet fully developed.
A lot of his inconsistency and muted effect this season is down to him personally. He needs to have more of an impact when he is used as an impact sub, which will make him indispensible to Arsene Wenger.
He also needs to maintain work on his core attributes such as his pace and his fitness, both of which have looked a little off this season but both he can control, add to and add strength.
He could also improve his movement and add to his game in terms of position. He’s been guilty of dropping too deep in matches this season and not using his pace to exploit a weak defence.
A lot of that is to do with the fact that Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere sit in the middle of the current side and control the ball.
Therefore, the natural urge that Oxlade-Chamberlain has is to drop off from an attacking position to go deeper, where he is more likely to get a feel of the ball before he floods forward again.
He needs time in the side and he needs to learn more about his own game and the team’s play. It may not be so much second season syndrome as it is a young man making his way in the game.
Arsenal fans, what do you put his lack of effect down to?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald