Arsene Wenger recently hailed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s work down the middle for Arsenal; is this where we could see the 23-year-old feature against Chelsea on Saturday?
Wenger’s running out of central midfield options. Santi Cazorla is at least three weeks away following a second surgery on his ankle, Mohamed Elneny is away with Egypt for the Africa Cup of Nations, Granit Xhaka is serving a four-match ban and Aaron Ramsey strained his calf against Watford on Tuesday.
Although the Ox is predominantly used on the flanks, he’s shown time and time again that he’s brilliant playing more centrally. In fact, when the Gunners faced his former club, Southampton, in the FA Cup last weekend, he had one of the best games of his career.
Speaking recently, the boss hailed the England international’s ability in the centre of the pitch and admitted that players often just need experience to play there, which is why they start on the wing.
“Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain impressed me in the middle too. He’s a player who can be effective on the flanks and when he’s in a more central role,” Wenger said.
“When you are young, you want to come in the team and the push is always a bit more on the flank. Why? Because centrally there is more experience demanded, more planning, more tactical planning, and on the flanks you can be a bit more instinctive.
“But naturally he is a guy who is comfortable to always be involved in the game. Looking back, he’s done very well when playing centrally in the past.”
With this in mind, will we see the Ox play centrally against Chelsea? He got kicked against Watford but the boss said he should be available.
I don’t only think it’s likely, I think it would be beneficial. It would be the type of game he could really make his mark in and I’m sure he’d relish the opportunity.