Tag Archives: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Ox? Gone. Gibbs? Gone. Mustafi, Pérez, Alexis? Rats…is it a sinking ship…

Oxlade-Chamberlain is off to Liverpool. Gibbs will slink away to West Brom, perhaps suggesting that hsi chances at silverware are better over at the Hawthorns than they are at the Emirates. Mustafi looks to be loaned out to Inter, having been exposed as inadequate in a 3-4-3 if not a 4-2-3-1. Pérez joins the want-aways amidst rumours of a loan to Deportivo, but leading the rat-pack has to be none other than Alexis Sánchez, with persistent rumours of a move to Man City. At some point, it starts to feel as if the ship is sinking, and if these and other rats are abandoning ship, it feels like Arsène is doing little more than dithering over the rearrangement of deck-chairs on the Titanic.

In seasons past, we’ve suffered through the sales of players under the ostensible excuse of having to finance the stadium-debt. The sales of  Clichy, Nasri, Fàbregas, and van Persie, among others, were defended as necessary in order to pay for the Emirates. In more-recent years, we were led to believe that our days as a selling club were over, that the debt was paid down, and that we would start to see aggressive moves in the transfer-market. To a degree, we did. Özil came in at £42m, followed the next summer by Alexis at £38. The summer after that, Xhaka came in at £40.5m, and Mustafi followed at £36.9m. Each of these transfer-fees more than doubled the club’s previous record—£17m for Santi Cazorla.

One might think that splurging to that degree might have bolstered Arsenal’s competitiveness. After all, under Arsène, the club has become the butt of various jokes on stinginess. For as noble and as principled as Arsène is to insist that a club be self-sustaining, that stance more than ever before comes across as foolish, short-sighted, and stubborn. Yes, it is ridiculous to pay a £45m transfer-fee for Kyle Walker, to cite just one example, but that is the water in which we swim.

Arsène, more than ever, is refusing to swim and risks drowning in that water, which has deepened with each passing week. It’s more than a bit shocking that a club like Arsenal can’t find the money to sign Lemar, Draxler, or any other player, despite having started the season in a disastrous fashion. In previous seasons, we might have tolerated Arsène’s stinginess because it allowed him to make a signing or two as the result of some othe club making a massive signing—Real Madrid signs Bale and sells Özil; Barcelona signs Suarez and sells Alexis; Chelsea recall Courtois and sell Čech. Sloppy seconds, at best.

By all accounts, we’ve clawed and scraped our way out from under the stadium-debt. However, in this transfer-window more than in any other prior, we’ve seen an arms-race to eclipse any other. For as much as I’ve respected Arsène’s belief that a club should be self-sustaining—that it should finance player-acquisitions through its own revenues rather than the free-wheeling spending of an investor or owner—it’s abundantly and painfully clear that we’ve missed the boat that might have saved us. Tottenham sold Walker, Everton sold Lukaku, and Swansea sold Sigurdsson for exorbitant if not extortionate fees.

Meanwhile, we’re on the verge of selling off three or four players, each of them in his prime, at the very same discounted fees Arsène was once renowned for paying for stars in the making. I’d love to say that he’s jumped the shark, but this would imply that he’s got his head above the surface. That, sadly, is not the case. Instead of selling players to finance the stadium, it appears that we may now be selling players because the manager prefers to balance the books, not defeat opponents.

Unless something dramatic changes in the next few days, we face the prospect of (a) selling off unhappy, want-away players, or (b) holding them to their contracts and suffering as they sulk. In either case, it’s unclear whether we’re close to signing anyone to strengthen the squad. Given that we’ve played roughly 20 minutes of actual football across three matches, losing two of them, it’s hard to believe that we have any leverage over any clubs from whom we might hope to prise away players. “Er, um, yes, you see that we have struggled to, erm, succeed, but footballistically speaking, we are quite successful if you do not look at results or style of play. Please may we purchase ________ for a fraction of what you value him? No? Ahem.”

In any other circumstance, I might say, “well, at least we can look forward to beating Bournemouth”. At the rate things are going, both over there as well as here, I’m not so sure. We’re in a right mess. I’ve gone from regretfully wishing Arsène would retire to aggressively insisting that he be pushed out. There. I’ve said it.

Can Arsenal rise above the Scouser curse?

A sloppy win over Leicester inspired us. It was, after all, a feisty turnaround as well as a convenient mirror-image to last season’s opener, was it not? However, to have followed it with a stinker at Stoke did put a damper on things even if we gloss it over by convincing ourselves that things would have been different had Alexis been available. Would it have been, though? Doesn’t matter–unless the FA has established a hypothetical Prem League for us to vie for. At any rate, we’re off to a shaky start, and a trip to Anfield will do little to soothe jangled nerves.

Of course, Liverpool are not without their own worries. The summer-long saga surrounding Coutinho continues unabated, with the remorseless eating machine that is Barca looking to feed yet again. The uncertainty around his future might look and feel familiar to us, but I assume I’m not alone when I suggest that I’m short on sympathy.

However, as things are currently shaping up, we’re more likely to fight with the likes of Liverpool for a top-four finish than we are to keep pace with Chelsea or Man City. With that in mind, and with our road-woes already rearing their ugly heads, it’s essential that we go into Anfied with much more urgency and final product than we brought to Stoke. There, we were wasteful and overly generous, making Butland look both lucky and world class by turns. Against a squad that looked allergic if not inept in attack, we gifted them the only goal they’d need.

Against Liverpool, we can’t count on such allergies and ineptitudes. Coutinho or not, Liverpool have more than enough to worry a defense that hasn’t yet looked as strong as it did in last season’s run-in. Sadio Mané offers more than enough nightmares on his own. Trying to slow if not stop him will be a tall task, and how well Bellerín handles him may determine the outcome. On the other hand, Liverpool have not looked all that stalwart despite earning a clean sheet (against Crystal Palace), for what that’s worth. There’s not a name in the backline that worries me. Then again, the name “Škrtel” used to worry me. Klopp has selection woes, and Mignolet no longer commands or controls his area as he once did. Whoever Klopp does send out, it is essential that we attack as we did against Leicester in the last twenty minutes or so. We looked like we wanted to win. Badly. That hunger just wasn’t there against Stoke. Heck, if you can’t get motivated to defeat a rival with whom you share a heated history, well, what’s wrong with you?

 Two of our hungrier players, Koscielny and Alexis, have been deemed available, according to Arséne, and they should add not only passion but purpose to a squad that so lacking in either against Stoke. Should they be named, this will mark the first match in which we can field a full-strength XI. Looking past the two of them, however, I’m looking to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to finally and fully ignite. There have been endless rumours linking him with a move away to Chelsea and Liverpool, but don’t let that talk overshadow his play to date. Without having scored a single goal, he still might register as our best performer of the young season, leading the Prem in successful dribbles (15), and his passing, crossing, and decision-making are all markedly improved. Maybe he’s only auditioning for his next contract. So be it.

  • Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal (4 March 2017).
  • Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool (14 Aug 2016).
  • Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal (13 Jan 2016)
  • One or both sides have scored at least three goals in four of the last five matches.
  • Liverpool are undefeated in 26 of their last 28 home-matches in the Prem.
  • Arsenal have now won at Anfield since 
  • Cazorla is ruled out; Wilshere and Chambers are still doubtful.
  • Cêch; Monreal, Koscielny, Bellerín; Kolašinac, Ramsey, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Alexis, Özil; Lacazette.
  • This one has the makings of another topsy-turvy, back-and-forth. However, this time, Arsenal look to have the firepower to seize the day.
  • Liverpool 1-3 Arsenal.

Arsenal to sell Oxlade-Chamberlain to Chelsea…for £35m?

Happy birthday, Alex, first off. The lad turns 24 today, and so it seems fitting that he gets what he
wants, which is, apparently, to join Chelsea. On its face, such a sale might make sense. In 200 appearances over six years, after all, he’s scored just 20 goals despite being an attacking player for almost all of those appearances. His brief stint in the middle—where he most wants to play—was uneven and unconvincing. He’s inconsistent. Error-prone. Injury-prone. Can’t find a regular spot. At best, it seems, he’s merely a good player to have in the squad. If Chelsea want him, Chelsea can have him, no?


Over at Arseblog, Andrew suggests that he’s “leaning towards letting him go,” making many of the points I laid out above. I do agree with Andrew when he states that he “wouldn’t sell Chelsea the steam off [his] piss.” I might complete the thought by adding “even if Chelsea was dying of thirst,” but let’s not be petty. Even if some of the worst of the worst have left—Mourinho, Terry, Ramires, Cole, perhaps Costa soon—and even if Antonio Conte threatens to cause my hate for that club to abate ever so slightly, there is no way in hell we should be selling a player like the Ox to Chelsea for a mere £35m. At that price, maybe Chelsea can buy the steam off my piss.

This is not about principles. I’m not out to punish Chelsea. I’m looking at this one pragmatically. We know that Chelsea is Abramovich’s plaything, his shiny little bauble, and he’ll spend relentlessly to keep it shiny. We also know that Conte is rather desperate to strengthen the squad. After all, they’ve spent a paltry £126m on Morata, Bakayoko, and a few others to this point. Having lost at home on opening day to Burnley, Chelsea are now so bereft of players that they are trying to force Costa to return after a hilarious soap-opera of a summer. They apparently won’t consider recalling a few of the 137 (give or take) players who are out on loan.

In other words, they are desperate to buy. We, however, are not desperate to sell even if the player’s contract runs out this summer. If Chelsea want him this summer, let them prove it with the kind of mad-money they’re always so eager to splurge. £35m just doesn’t make the grade. That’s Chelsea takin’ the piss out of us. Double it, and now we’re talkin’.

Okay, so I exaggerate just a bit. A player has no real, objective value. His value is more like an algebra equation which the buying and selling clubs as variables that determine value. Chelsea are an oiligarch’s club. That inflates the player’s value. No spite or rancor on my part.

As to the player himself, the 24-year old delivered the kind of master-class performance against Leicester that should make us think. He won’t always make WhoScored’s Team of the Week, and he won’t always earn a 9.23 rating. He is, however, one of our most-dynamic and most-versatile players. He looks to be flourishing in our 3-4-3 and is, aside from Alexis, the only player willing and able to beat his man off the dribble and shoot from distance. His combination of speed and strength are perhaps unique in our squad. If he can add consistency—excuse me as I wipe the drool away—he’ll start to decimate opponents.

That’s a big “if”, of course. Will he take that next step, or will he continue to frustrate? He’s in the last year of his contract. He’s entered that golden window of ability and experience. Let him audition for his next contract. If he can show that he can actually convert potential into performance, we can discuss a better wage-packet. If injuries and errors continue to mar his development, however, we can either let him leave and ply his trade elsewhere or stay and fight. In that case, he might find fewer suitors and stingier offers.

In either case, I’d like him to stay. He’s mercurial, yes, but I believe we’ll see him start to master his massive talents. I’d hate to see that happen at Stamford Bridge at almost any price—well, no more than the two or three times a season we’re paying them a visit and can watch the Ox obliterate whoever lines up opposite, be it Cesc or Alonso or Kanté or whoever else they might try to buy.

If Chelsea are willing to meet my valuation, however, we can bid the Ox a fond farewell. Sadly, Roman hasn’t been returning my calls. Perhaps Donald Trump, Jr. can arrange a meeting between us at Trump Tower…

An Ox in the transfer-shoppe: why Arsenal should quit Oxin' around…

Editor’s Note: This week’s guest-post comes from Emory Stern, who first took notice of Arsenal because of the Dutch-duo of Overmars and Bergkamp. He comes to us as an aficionado of beautiful, attacking football—in other words, he is a Gooner. In this post, he weighs in on the speculation regarding Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s future with the club. Have at it, Emory!

No team has the type of players who divide (and frustrate) fan and pundit opinion quite like Arsenal players.  One of the players who fits this bill perfectly is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Ox was signed in 2011 and was full of promise. Initially deployed as a winger who can play either side, Arsène Wenger revealed that he saw Ox’s future in the centre of the midfield and viewed him as a “Steven Gerrard” type of centre midfielder.  Fast forward to the conclusion of the 2017 season.  Ox was deployed in the FA Cup final victory versus Chelsea as the left wing back in our new-look, three centre-back system.  As a right footed player, he obviously did not look the natural fit there; however, he did the job and did it quite well, well enough to tantalise us with his future prospects.

Ox will be 24 years old in August.  Given his early rise, at this stage of his career, his game should be fine-tuned; he should be nearing his peak, and at the least should know his best position on the pitch.  However, it has to feel like the Ox’s career has stagnated, especially in the 14/15 and 15/16 seasons.  In those seasons, he was mostly deployed on either wing. This was a mistake because, when given the chance in previous seasons in the centre, he showed real promise. Tactically, he is much more effective when he is given more space to work with in the deeper parts of the pitch where he can use his power, pace, and dexterity going forward.  When we saw him deployed on the wing as part of the front three in a 4-2-3-1 we often saw him making the wrong decisions time and time again, especially in the final third of the pitch, and his final end product left something to be desired.

So back to 2017. Panic-mode has crept in and Arsène has one last roll of the dice during our dismal run of form in the New Year. He switches to a back-three and a system of wingbacks. To everyone’s surprise, the Ox is deployed as our right wing-back. I had formed the conclusion that winger was no longer a good position for him. However, at wingback, he is able to start his runs from a deeper position, gaining momentum on his adversaries on his wing. As Héctor Bellerín struggled for form and also dealt with a niggling ankle injury, the RWB position was there for the Ox to ake, and for the first time in a number of seasons, he was starting week in and week out—but—not in his preferred position.
Domestically in this summer transfer window, there have been a few teams swarming around the Ox in speculation that he would force a move: Chelsea and Liverpool have been sniffing about. Does he actually fancy a move away, or is his agent just stirring the pot as they always do so that we will give him a nice contract since his current contract is less than a year from expiration? That’s a question that should be answered in due time. The Ox has made it clear he wants to play in the centre of the pitch.  Some items to point out are that the Ox is way down the pecking order in that area. It seems that he’s only deployed there in stop-gap situations. It’s unlikely that he’d be the difference-maker for us in the centre in terms of challenging for the league.

Lastly, in order for the Ox to flourish in the centre might require Arsène to deploy a midfield three (4-3-3 is what suits Ox best). I’ve given plenty of thought on the situation. I have also seen plenty of comments from fans via social media regarding the Ox and many are quick to comment that we should allow him to leave. I, for one would not be hurt if we let the Ox go…that is on the basis we are letting a centre-midfielder leave. However, we have no cover for Héctor Bellerín as of current on the right.  Debuchy and Jenkinson cannot be realistically placed in the picture (and there are strong rumours around both of them leaving).  If I were Arsène, I would be reluctant to let Ox go. He is a quality option at RWB, an extremely demanding position, and having him and Bellerín is an easy and seamless swap with rotation.  You have two extremely athletic players who are technically sound and can get up and down the pitch.

Also, it would be deemed a difficult task in finding a quality replacement in that position, much less one that would also be willing to play second fiddle to Bellerín. So, unless we can find sufficient cover for Bellerín, we would be out of our minds to sell the Ox. It is a sticky situation in terms of a career decision for the Ox, because the only place he will receive sufficient and consistent game time is at RWB.  Unless we decide to change systems (which I do not believe will be anytime soon), the Ox shouldn’t expect to get many chances at CM.  As far as a career point of view, he will need to sort out what position he wants to play and quit Oxin’ around.

If you fancy a follow, you can find Emory at @EmoryStern. Before you leave, share your thoughts in the comment-section below!

FA Cup Preview: Preston vs. Arsenal in "Invincibles" Clash!

The FA Cup’s Third Round Proper throws together two behemoths of British football, the only two clubs to have ever completed a full campaign, the only two—eh, that’s enough of that. I’m sure you’ll have read quite enough of the “Invincibles” angle already, so that’s about as much ink as I’ll devote to it here. After all, for both clubs, that’s history, ancient or otherwise. Let’s turn our attention instead to the present, one in which Arsenal should look quite keen to advance and Preston might have more to worry about than this competition.

Starting with our hosts, Preston find themselves firmly lodged mid-table in the Championship, 11th out of 24.  A quick review of their recent results suggest that they’re strong down the wings and through set-pieces, which could pose uncomfortable problems for us if we’re not more careful than we were against Bournemouth on Wednesday. They frequently set up in a 4-4-2, and it’s safe to say that we’re likely to see a thicket of eight or nine men behind the ball to stymie us. Then again, in Preston’s previous non-league fixture, a League Cup fourth-rounder against Newcastle, Simon Grayson named a squad full of back-benchers, saying at the time that “the [Championship] League is our priority”. It’s probable that he’ll name a similar side for Saturday.

Shouldn’t matter, to be honest. Even if we are the visitors to Deepdale, we really should see this as a smash-and-grab. If , however, we underestimate our opponents as we did for 70 minutes against Bournemouth, well, we’ll get what we should have deserved at Dean Court. If, on the other hand, we can play as we did in the ensuing 25, it really won’t matter who our opponent is or what squad they name. That’s the kind of urgency we should play with from the get-go.

The player to whom I’m looking to deliver that urgency would be Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. With Arsène likely to rest a few regulars, the 23-year old should get the nod. He’s a confidence-man, needing time on the pitch to prove to himself and his critics what he’s capable of. Given that time, he’s made good. His pace and power offer a direct threat similar in many ways to what Alexis offers, and he’s shown that he’s dangerous with the ball at his feet. Against an over-matched, error-prone, and shuffled Preston back-line, Ox should find multiple opportunities to add to his goal/assist tally.

Robert Madley will preside. For what it’s worth, we sport a record of six wins, no draws, and one loss when he does.

Arsenal 2-1 Preston (12.10.1999—League Cup).
Preston 2-4 Arsenal (04.01.1999—FA Cup Third Round Proper).
Preston 2-0 Arsenal (30.08.1960—First Division).

The clubs first clashed on 14 September 1901, a 2-1 win to Preston in the Second Division.
The two have met in the FA Cup on four other occasions but have played six such matches.
Of course, these two clubs are the only ones to complete a full season without losing a match.

Welbeck, Cazorla, Debuchy, Mertesacker, and Welbeck will miss out; Elneny is off to represent Egypt at AFCON, and Özil may be rested as he recovers from illness.

Ospina; Gibbs, Holding, Mustafi, Jenkinson; Xhaka, Ramsey;  Lucas, Iwobi, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Giroud.

A bit of rotation is likely to prevent any real rhythm from forming, but Arsenal should have more than enough intent and quality to overwhelm their hosts.
Preston 0-3 Arsenal.

What are your thoughts? Will Arsenal advance, or will we be left regretting another lost chance? Share your thoughts in the comments-section below!