Wenger on where Oxlade-Chamberlain’s future lies

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After an outstanding display in central midfield against Southampton at the weekend, Arsene Wenger says he believes Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s future will probably see him play more often in that role.

It’s not the first time the Frenchman has suggested this, but at 23 perhaps now he’s mature enough for the manager to have the confidence to play him there more more frequently.

Speaking at his press conference today, he said, “I think he’s a good flank player and good central player but the future, personally I would say, is more central than on the flank for him.

“When you’re young you want to get in team, I push you a bit more wide. Why? Because central demands more experience, more planning, tactical planning and on the flanks you can be a bit more instinctive.

“But naturally he’s a guy I think is comfortable to be always involved in the game.

“And when I look back at all the games he’s played central, many of them he has done very well.”

It’s probably not a coincidence that his best performances have come from a central position, but whether or not he can fight his way into the team there on a regular basis remains to be seen.

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48 Comments on "Wenger on where Oxlade-Chamberlain’s future lies"

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CB

Good to have another option. He played well at the weekend but Southampton weren’t strong. Worth trying him out in the centre every so often and see how he goes.

Why not

Yes. But both Bayern and Milan where strong. So there is evidence of good signs.

Oberon

But maybe not against Chelsea, we got spanked last time he played there against them.

Cape Town Gooner

That was Gibbs, wasn’t it? 😜

loose_cannon

Not sure it’s really fair to judge Ox on that “performance”…

Daff

He always delivers when called upon in the midfield. His performance against Milan, Bayern and Crystal Palace now Southampton shows he can handle the pressure of planning , distribution and decision making . What he needs is to be played consistently in the midfield and avoid injuries.

FInsbury Park Gooner

I’m so glad we stuck by the Ox. I’ve always thought this guy can go all the way to the very top given the right circumstances.

Nullvinho

I wonder where this leaves Wilshere. It would be a shame to see him go.

Giroud's Buldge

A career gone up in a cloud of smoke.

Seriously though, smoking is not something that affects a persons stamina or physicality in the short term and I think the press put too much emphasis on this. Wilshere’s troubles have been from a series of bad injuries resulting from poor challenges and I hope he comes back. The decision to play a whole season on loan at Bournemouth is a strange one though.

If he does move on we’d better get the British added value for him – 35-40 million.

Anup

I see your point about it being a bad decision to go to Bournemouth, but I have to disagree.
There was very little chance he would’ve been playing every week in our first team XI. You could say he took the easy way out, but i don’t see it that way.
For his long-term career it is a wise move, as he is testing his body and pushing himself to play a full 90mins every week.
In the short-term yeah it sucks he’s not at the club. But in the long-term, especially with Cazorla’s injury issues seemingly indicating an Arteta-esque situation, there is definitely hope for him.

Commander88

I think going to AFC Bournemouth will give no end of help for both Jack and Arsenal and he will definitely be signed up by Arsene.

If you watched him play and progress through this season you really are so glad he made that choice as his match fitness and experience gained would be an enormous benefit straight away and for the long term when he returns.

His displays for the Cherries has been exceptional the more he plays the better he got.

Gus Caesar

There are no guarantees of playing “week in week out” at top clubs, you earn the right. To leave because you want that guarantee just to impress Allardyce smacks of nothing other than taking the easy route. And we could have done with him right now.

BidOnLard

Thought the same thing. In fact I thought they had some similarities in stile. Let’s see.

Gus Caesar

That would certainly help the Ox to get into another field…

Gus Caesar

I don’t really think the Ox playing well on Saturday makes any difference to Wilshere’s future at the club to be honest. What will is him putting Allardyce and England before The Arsenal. If he plays for us again i’d be very surprised.

David Semen

Allardyce got the chop matey.

Gus Caesar

Yes, and? My point is he put playing for Allardyce first.

Jay

Maybe we will have to let Wilshere go. that is sad and unfortunate but Sanchez…

vino

It’s remarkable that you can still recall that Milan performance so vividly. It was something else, and this was against tactically experienced players.

Somebody else mentioned somewhere that he might be a bit less susceptible to injury playing in the middle as well. Really interesting point. If all Ox is is pace, then they’re ten a penny. He needs to be more than that and hopefully this is a switch for his relationship with the team, because despite better end product this season it still hasn’t felt great. Southampton was what I saw when I watched him at Milan, a rare talent.

sid

Coq-Ox-Ozil?

Newxieland

Given that we only have two fit non-suspended midfielder atm the Ox is definitely LANS!

Indian Gooner

I would personally start him in the centre of the field in the next match. With some big games coming up.. If it clicks.. it could be a major turning point in our season.

Xhaquelin Kostafi

While I totally follow and support your rationale there, it would make much more sense to test the new pairing which will face Chelsea in order to let them gel at least a bit. Therefore, Coq + Ram still more likely for the Watford game IMO.

Stillmatic

Err, why can’t the new pairing be Coq and Ox (Cozq?) and let them gel at Watford?

Easily the pairing that resembles Coq and Santi. Ramsey+Coq just gives me bad vibes of Ram-Flam.

MaritalMonk

AOC has been around the team so long it’s hard to believe he’s still only 23. He gets so much stick for his performances from fans (including me). I should probably be a bit more circumspect in criticizing him and hope that his best years still lie ahead of him (whether centrally or on the flanks).

Mike

Probably at Chelsea.

Goon

I see him as a sort of replacement for Rosicky. Very direct in his thinking. As always, mentality is what I feel lets so many English players down. Hopefully he can deliver

Gus Caesar

I’m not sure there have been two more frustrating enigmas than the Ox and Walcott. Both have such talent and on their day can look incredibly good. And yet both also have the ability to turn in abject displays when they can barely pass a football and you wonder how they are still at a club of our size. Ox played very well on Saturday (as too did Reine-Adelaide) but i’d like to see more consistency from him before we start talking about him as the future at centre-mid. One swallow and all that.

Stillmatic

Agreed.

But surely we have to conclude it may not be completely coincidental that ALL his best displays have come from being a CM?

Gus Caesar

I don’t think they ALL have. I think he’s played very well out wide at times and I think he’s also been out of his depth before at centre-mid (as others have said above, see Chelsea away). It’s also easy to remember only the most recent game. The question we need to be asking is why, when Wenger has been saying for years that he has the ability to play centrally, he can’t play centrally without 5 or 6 others being missing. I think it’s because he doesn’t match the talent he evidently has with his performance levels. He’s simply too inconsistent to be relied on in a vital central area week in week out. He first needs to learn to be less wasteful when played wide.

Save 75 cents

Ox is Santi’s replacement.

Diarra

His best position could be a CM role in a midfield 3 where he doesn’t have to bee too disciplined, a similar role he played on Saturday (I think he played RCM).

We could line up with one deep lying DM in Coq or Xhaka and play Ramsey and Ox (Or Elneny, Iwobi) ahead of them. That system would probably get the best out of every one of them:

Özil–Alexis–Lucas/Walcott
—Ramsey—Ox—
—-Xhaka/Coq—-

Özil, Alexis, Ramsey and Ox could exchange positions during a match. As could Alexis with Lucas/Walcott

Diarra

On the other hand, having both Ox and Ramsey in midfield has disaster written all over it, as those two aren’t usually related to the word consistency (coming from a person who thinks Ramsey is quality when in form)

Cape Town Gooner

But you sacrifice the #10 role that Ozil is best at, and that fluid front four that has been so effective on its day…

loose_cannon

I think the 4-3-3 is worth looking at though, especially as it allows for a more pressing and counter attacking game. Many have suggested Ozil out wide in this formation but I think he could make a switch to CM like Iniesta, Modric and Lallana. He did it briefly in the 2-1 win against Bayern last season

gunnertron

A candidate for the Cazorla role then, perhaps?

Igbo Amadi-Obi

Let’s not forget how easily he loses the ball in midfield, and how much it cost us in the past.

jo

that is major anecdata. i have seen no evidence that he actually is dispossessed or misplaces passes more frequently than other midfield options, only that on a couple of well-publicized occasions when he did so it happened to cost us and so people remember those occurrences.

Arsensarmy

Are you people kidding me. I’m pulling for the ox to be a success at arsenal as much as the next fool, but to proclaim that he’s the person to fill santis boots is a bit premature. One decent display against a limp dick Southampton 2nd team squad does not fill me with an overflowing amount of confidence. Let’s see if he can string together a run of 3 or 4 solid performances before we anoint the ox as the next heir to santis throne.

Lula da Gilberto

He’s gone from extraordinary talent to ‘good’ on the flank. I’m not saying he’s out but its interesting how the expectations of him have changed. I hope he can deliver. He’s on course for easily his best season. His contribution against spurs notwithstanding he’s been a useful addition. Hopefully he’s got just a bit more to give.

Winterburn Wanderers

Mr. Blogs,

The last time the Ox played in this position with distinction I believe was the first game of 2016 away to Stoke when Mesut was given the day off. We played well, got a 0-0 and Chambo ran the game. Very strong, holding players off with ease.

Igbo Amadi-Obi

@ when you are young i push you a bit more wide because central demands a bit more experience…but his future lies in the middle. I will never understand that thinking. Isn’t that why at his age Ox cannot still call himself a wide plaplayer or a midfielder? If we had focused him on the flanks or middle, he would be damn good at it by now.

Stillmatic

I think the other problem, that I know people don’t want to admit is….
I suspect Ox works best in a midfield 3 as one of the 2 CMs (where he always excels), but….we can’t play that formation or role with Ozil. Ozil’s…..lack of defensive strength shall we say, means we’ll always need 2 deeper CMs behind him.

In some ways, Ozil for all the strength and quality he brings (which is a lot), he does unbalance the team.

robbo

It’s a nice compliment, for sure, from Wenger. But am I the only one wondering if he’s saying the Ox will end up playing in the middle…for someone? I guess I agree with Blogs that it’s a make or break year for him.

santori

Certainly gives us the options we need because we are bereft in central midfield at the moment.

Aside from Coquelin and Ramsey, we are otherwise down to the potential but inexperience of Maitland Niles (don’t let the Soton game fool you, against higher opposition, he isn’t quite there yet)

Ox at very least gives us an option in the midfield link role which Ramsey provides.

I would also think another player that may have potential to re-role could be Iwobi.

But in terms of the next 3 matches (till Granit returns), the Coquelin role is a concern should he take a knock. Elneny is now injured and was never the most convincing as a defensive shield alone.

An emergency alternative could be Debuchy I suppose who played in defensive midfield very early in his career and has the experience and technicality to hold.

Whatever it is, we need to get through the next 3 matches (including the big one against Chelski) until other assets return to midfield (chiefly Granit)

The deep passing range from the Ox is an excellent weapon which provides what we lack without Santi and now Granit. It is a quick release that gives us more directness and helps to take advantage of our speedier assets quicker.

He’s 23yrs which is the time Walcott, Ramsey and Coquelin came good for us.

Well done Wenger for playing him in the middle.

Matrix

Wenger honestly should try 4 3 3 with Ox Coq Rambo, Welbeck/walcot Ozil Sanchez… With Ox and Rambo joining Ozil as attacking midfield when we are pressing or attacking and Welbeck/Walcot and Sanchez play as two strikers. Its flexible and allows our best players in the first eleven and in their preferred or best positions game.

gooner of Oz

He has qualities to be our best box to box and fill a Santi sized hole in our midfield (which is ironically a huge hole!).
Santi himself was so similar a winger in Villareal and Spain, even my favorite box to box in PL right now Phillipe Coutinho had much in common. So-although I loved Jack to be that guy for us- now that I look at it this way Chambo is the man.

I AM ARSENAL

“When you’re young you want to get in team, I push you a bit more wide. Why? Because central demands more experience, more planning, tactical planning and on the flanks you can be a bit more instinctive.
He also plays Wilshere and Ramsey wide when they are returning from injury…Pundits well have you believe that he plays them there because he feels they are good in that position.

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