Despite starting Tuesday’s Champions League against AC Milan in the centre of midfield, Arsene Wenger doesn’t believe that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is quite ready to play there on a regular basis for the club.
In midweek the manager’s hand was forced by injury with the Gunners missing Mikel Arteta, Yossi Benayoun, Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby through injury. And The Ox was deployed not as an attacking midfielder, but in a deeper lying role quite similar to the one that Jack Wilshere was used in last season (but not this one, boo hoo).
The boss is sure that the talented youngster will eventually end up in the centre of the park, but not just yet.
I don’t think he is ready to play in this role personally but he will certainly develop into it in the future,” he told Arsenal Player.
“He will play [there] again but I think he has to play where he is needed basically. The most important thing at the moment is that he develops well.
“He had a good game but he still has many things to add to his game. That is the purpose now for his work, especially the fitness, the physical intensity to add to his game. That will certainly come if he works hard.”
And the manager was quick to remind both the player, and the press, that it takes that hard work to make it, saying, “You are not a star after five or 10 games, let’s let him play 100 times and then we will talk again.”
When you look at the players who have been hyped, and believed their own hype, those are words that The Ox should pay attention to. Nobody wants to see another Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, although clearly Alex is a different character and a much more level-headed and grounded young man. And he can spell.
May the Ox be with you!