Finally! Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the source of both frustration and enthusiasm for many Arsenal supporters, displayed plenty of the latter in an encouraging showing as we prevailed with a much-needed 2-0 away victory this afternoon.
Just a minute after Mesut Özil broke the deadlock, the Ox netted his first Premier League goal since September 2014 – a neatly-placed finish, across Artur Boruc’s near post.
Alex has struggled at times for consistency over the past few years, and more pressingly, the past few months in truth. Whenever he has a promising spell, it seems inevitable that he’d get injured. The opportunity to cement his first-team credentials has been constantly disrupted by injury, and when he has played, he often tries too hard to create something in the final third. As opposed to passing with a teammate in space, he’d opt to shoot. Instead of patiently holding up play, he’d dribble into an opposing player and lose possession.
We’ve seen moments of magic from the 22-year-old though, not least his solo strike to help sink Jose’s Chelsea side in the Community Shield back in August.
Today, he did the simple things well and as a result, was given the opportunity to create chances going forward. Utilising his agile frame to good effect, he made intelligent runs in and around the penalty area, which meant he was a constant hassle for Bournemouth defenders to try and isolate.
His goal was somewhat fortunate, but clinical in the same vein. Taking advantage of some lacklustre defending from the hosts, he saw Aaron Ramsey to his left on the ball – instinctively sprinting into space for a pass. Without hesitation, he struck hard and low into the bottom corner, giving Boruc no chance of saving the well-taken effort.
Having had the fewest touches (31) within the Arsenal starting XI, his hard work defensively often goes unnoticed. The same could be said again today, as he was eager to help contribute out of possession when required to do so, making five ball recoveries and two successful tackles during the 66 minutes he was on the pitch.
Receiving a warm reception as he was replaced by Francis Coquelin to help shore up the midfield with Bournemouth continuing to threaten, you can only hope that he uses individual performances like this – as well as his encouraging display v Burnley last weekend – to help build momentum.
His goal was a crucial one confidence wise, but his overall game is much more than just creating chances and converting them accordingly. Hopefully over the coming weeks, he can continue to effectively silence his critics with consistently good performances.
Stats source: WhoScored and FourFourTwo