Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Wenger: Wing-back Ox will help him move central

Arsene Wenger says that playing as wing-back will help Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fulfil his potential as a central midfielder, a role the manager has often said is the one best suited to the 23 year old.

In his Arsenal career, the England international has played centrally, as well as on the flanks as part of a front three, but in the last two games has been deployed as a right wing-back after the switch to three at the back.

He was impressive in both games, providing a fantastic assist for Nacho Monreal at Wembley on Sunday, but Wenger believes this is a short-term positional change for him, and his future still lies in the middle.

“In the future, on long term, he will play in central midfield,” he said. “What he is doing at the moment will help him to be a successful central midfielder as well. But at the moment I feel that this wing-back role has suited him well.

“First of all he can use well his power. And it suits him well as well because he is facing the game when he gets the ball.

“It’s a different kind of game to be marked by somebody, get rid, turn and go forward, or to face the game. I think he looks to be comfortable when he is running at people and when he has the ball at his feet.

“When we speak about systems, some systems give a little advantage to some players because it just suits them a little bit better, comforts their qualities. He has maybe benefited from it.”

Having spoken a number of times previously about the self-doubt that has seemed to inhibit Oxlade-Chamberlain, the manager has seen promising signs in that regard too.

“I think Alex is one of the players who has developed very well mentally,” he said.

“He is more positive, more confident, more mature. He was sometimes a bit negative with his own performances.

“I think on that front he is much better now.”

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Dan Gunn

And then he leaves in the summer

canon 10000

And then he returns just in time for pre-season training.

Dan Gunn

And then he leaves in the summer…

Lack of Perspective

Can you leave?


But we’re WINGING games at the moment, why would you move him BACK central?

Lack of Perspective

Future being the operative tense


This fella sounds good, we should sign him!


I like the Idea of Xhaka-Ox pairing in the middle going forward with Hector and hopefully some competition for him as RWB and Monreal/Kolasinac or whoever we bring in as LWB. Ramsey frustrates me but this could free him up to play in behind the striker where he has produced his best football for us.


This is what I would like us to try at least once before the season is over: Xhaka–Ox midfield duo, Bellerin at RWB, Ramsey at one of those two spots behind the striker.


I concurr with everything, exept in place of Ramsey at no 10, would love to see Iwobi have a go there…quicker, more skillfull better passer and decision maker

Bould\'s Eyeliner

Ramsey as a No. 10 makes a lot of sense–it might not be so apparent now, but in 2013-14, it would have. If he is on form, then he’s a world-beater. If he isn’t, then he reminds me of a faster Henderson. And more importantly, if you had someone who can always put in a lung-busting sprint any point in the game like Ramsey can, Arsenal can have a more mobile platform to launch their attacks, for longer in the game. It makes a lot of sense to put an all-rounder with endurance in the No. 10 role–it doesn’t make… Read more »


Ramsey? No 10? You can’t be serious.

Heavenly Chapecoense

I am done with Ramsey. I heralded his supposedly hidden quality for years and was disappointed game after game. Not a better performance last weekend that will bring me back.


Really? Ramsey playing some of his best football behind the striker? Tbh the main thing Ramsey’s performances at no10 have done is remind me how much we miss Ozil when he’s not on the pitch.


I think the current system suits Ramsey, Xhaka and Ox brilliantly. Ramsey and Xhaka are box to box midfielders, not DM and not CAM, so this position where they are deep-ish but there isn’t too much pressure on them defensively, as there would be if they were playing 4-2-3-1. I completely understand what wenger is getting at with Ox. He does need to learn the defensive part of the game before he can play cm and doing so on the wing with three centre backs behind him is the best place to do it because he can take risks and… Read more »


if i recall correctly the ox replaced bellerin at old trafford and assisted girouds goal from a right wing back position

John C

The Ox isn’t a central midfielder, his displays centrally over the past couple of months show why.

Why you’d want to encumber our best player at beating a man with extra defensive responsibility i don’t know and even in this formation i think wide right in the forward 3 would be better for him. Pace, power and the ability to beat a man is a rare combination and The Ox has it, i think he should be sent out with the express instruction to tear the opposition defence a new one but what do i know.


Its a fair point but with Santi and Jack broken who have we got in midfield that can take that ability to go past a man and bring it to the much needed improvement of transitioning from defense to attack through the heart of midfield. Xhaka, Ramsey, Elneny all lack this attribute, its one of the reasons why (imo) our build up play has been so incredibly slow, remedial and impotent this season. Plus if i was looking for a right footed winger/number 10 style player to play in one of the wide positions in the front three (should we… Read more »


His best performances for us have come at CM and RWB for us. Strange, the more you know.

John C

What like all the defeats we’ve just had when he played in midfield? I don’t think his best games have been in midfield at all or the last 2 games at wing back


I seem to recall a game when we beat Bayern Munich…

John C

How many years ago was that? Over the past 16 months we’ve played them 3 times and been beating 5-1 each time!

The lengths people go to defend the indefensible are remarkable


Dos the C in your name stand for Chelsea?

Bould\'s Eyeliner

Ox in the middle makes a lot of sense. Why would you make him run further on the wings when his change of pace is what allows him to beat defenders? The only thing remarkable here is your inability to believe that a player can grow into a role.

John C

No, i’ve just had 12 years of watching this technique fail, maybe you haven’t been watching

Heavenly Chapecoense

People do not want Alexis, Ozil and now Ox to defend. You see why we’re si bad at team defence ?

John C

No, they should defend from the front that’s not the same as defend. Our defensive issues are a result of pushing both full backs up the pitch and the massive gap between defence and midfield. We also have a severe lack of defensive organisation without the ball, the team does not move and defend as a unit well enough.

It’s not a personnel problem but style of play problem


I think what Wenger is getting at is playing as a wing back gives the Ox a better understanding of his defensive duties and will help him to cut out of his game the unfortunate habit he has of losing the ball cheaply in dangerous situations, as well as giving him a sense of exactly WHEN to power forward with the ball .Apart from the aforementioned failing his performances in central midfield have been encouraging for the most part the fact that his appearances there have been during a period when the team as a whole have played badly will… Read more »

John C

What you’ve described is exactly why we will never will the league or champions league with Wenger. Firstly you must accept that the ball will be given away during the game and then you must make sure you have the right balance between attack and defence. If the Ox is prone to giving the ball away you must play him in a position where it won’t matter if he does, i.e. in an attacking position. If he doesn’t have the talent or skills to warrant a place in the side in that position he should be sold and some who… Read more »


Theres not a player anywhere in the world now or ever that hasn’t given the ball away cheaply at some point or points during their careers ,yes you must plan defensively for it as much as possible but giving a player confidence by playing him in a different position does no harm at all providing he learns from it and incorporates what he has learnt into his overall game !

John C

It harms the results of the team whilst competitive matches are being used as a training ground, which as i said hasn’t been successful for over 10 years now.

This methodology has proven not to work, why people continue to indulge this failed thinking i don’t know.

Only at Arsenal under Wenger do we try to retrain promising young players to different position whilst every other manager tries to make their youngsters better.


I remember when Thierry Henry arrived as a washed up winger from juve. Wenger made a right balls up of that positional change….

John C

You need your memory checked, but 1 success from 20 years of trying doesn’t make it a successful technique. The only other player i can think of was Lauren but other than that i don’t think it’s worked since with any player once they’ve reached their 20’s.


I’m fairly sure kolo toure made his debut as a winger…

Andy Mack

Santi was a winger…

John C

Debut as a wing doesn’t mean he was a winger, Sol Campbell made his debut for Spurs up front, so what?

Andy Mack

Santi played mainly on the wing for most of his time at Villareal and Malaga. He did occasionally play as a No 10 though.


….er Van P*rsie?


You’re so short sighted I’m shocked. Koscienly played most of his early career as a left wing back, ozil played mostly as a right winger in his early days at shalke and Bremen, Sanchez played everywhere except a striker, now look what a great job he does there. Aguero used to play as a winger in Argentina and his early days at athletico. The best players are those that understand the game best and at this level it comes to decision making and playing in different positions in your early days can only help expand your knowledge as a footballer.… Read more »


Oh really? Only at Arsenal do players play in different positions before they settle down into a position that suits them in the long run? Sergio Ramos didn’t play the first half of his career as a right back did he? Robert Lewandowski didn’t used to play as a winger did he? RVP as a winger/cam before he became a striker? The list goes on and on.

If you’re gonna argue something don’t argue opinions argue facts. And your argument that our lack of success in the last 10 years proves you’re right is so premature.

John C

I’m arguing facts not opinions.

If you like lists so much how about this one, Arshavin from number 10 to winger was a failure, Ramsey from central midfield to winger failure, Walcott from the wing to striker failure, Bendtner from striker to winger failure, etc etc.

In fact all of Wenger’s positional changes in the last 10-12 years can pretty much be describe as failures as they haven’t delivered the required results!

a different George

Two posts that make good points without screaming. Sign Nick up.


I miss the “hidden due to low rating” days……


Retraining? You understand the idea of a striker playing his early days as a winger to understand the whole picture right? That’s what made Henry great, that he understood the role from both perspectives. This is the same with Ox, each role brings different responsibilities.

Ox’s problem is mental and it’s not uncommon for a youngster (let’s not forget he’s still 23). His issue is more to do with decision making rather than a problem with his talent. As he matures and gets more experience these decisions become instinct.

John C

It is retraining, turning a winger to a striker is not the same as turning a winger into a midfielder, one has an overlapping skill set the other doesn’t.

This “understanding the role from another perspective” nonsense is a myth perpetuated by Wenger and more often than not hasn’t worked.

Many more players Wenger’s played out of position haven’t benefitted from it at all then those that have.


So all wingers posses the same qualities? Was Ox born a winger? Or is it because his qualities were suited to the wing? Is it possible that over time as he develops his qualities become more suited to a different position? I just want to state my knowledge of football stretches past Arsene Wenger. He’s not the first person to change players positions and it’s a standard thing all players go through. Fucking BFG used to be a right back. Imagine that!!!!! You don’t know what you’re talking about, I recommend before you respond, do a bit of research and… Read more »

John C

I’ve done extensive research, i’ve watched 12 years of Wenger being hopeless at it!

Harvey Keitel

Sorry John, which icons of the game did you nurse at the teat of your massive footballing knowledge? Which club did you win leagues and trophies for? Get off the soapbox and enjoy the win, you’re going to give yourself high blood pressure.

canon 10000

Yes. Ox is learning to do some spade work and I say leave him there till he is meaner and more confident.


He can play midfield or wing back, very able in both positions. But what Wenger should do is strengthen the left, we have Hector and Ox on the right if he moves forward with this system. Nacho is coming to form of late but we need another Hector and Ox on the left hehe.


Benjamin Mendy or Theo Hernández as a left sided version of Bellerin.
David Alaba the left footed version of OX – i have this feeling he would actually leave Bayern if it meant regaining the midfield role he plays for his country instead of the left back / left centre back limbo he’s in atm in Germany. Same cannon of a left foot as Xhaka but infinitely more mobile and competent defensively.


You’re talking FIFA 17. I agree that the left needs strengthening and the fact that we’ve been so heavily linked with left backs recently reiterates that. I think that left back we supposedly signed a pre contract agreement with looks very promising and looks like he can add some much needed strength and physicality to our team. I think gibbo’s time at Arsenal unfortunelty is over and over next season we should slowly transition from Monreal to Kolisnac or whoever we sign. Alaba is by far the best left back in the world, and I’d be extremely shocked if he… Read more »

Daft Aider

This makes no sense at all,
I’m guessing Arsene had just dropped acid.
Of all wide positions this is the one that needs players out wide the most, the whole ethos is that it’s one genuinely wide player per side of the pitch


So they have to stay on the line?


Ox was in central midfield against Liverpool and West Brom and it was apparently a success… these losses were surely Özil fault… oh wait he didn’t play…. and fortunately
Özil replaced Ox against Lincoln. But Arsenal fans need a home made hero whether he misplaces half of his passes or not…

Heavenly Chapecoense

Oh please spare us the conspiracy against Ozil thing. Ozil got criticized everywhere he has been for apparent lack of efforts. Up to Ozil to improve his game in that area. Nobody is perfect.


Why this obsession to move the ox central. He’s clearly much better on the wing. He’s always been good at crossing the ball but not so great at passing when playing in the center.

Keep him on the wing where he can run by defenders.

Walcott wanted to play central. He struggled up top foright a few seasons. This season he moved back to the wing and hit 20 goals.


Wish he stays injury free… I’m not saying we’ll be weaker without him but it surely makes sense to hold onto a player we’ve invested so much in who’s getting into his prime. Plus hard to get loyalty nowadays and he seems like a good lad.


What he said ^

Thierry bergkamp

Wenger has said for years that everything will make Ox a better central midfielder, instead of just playing him in central midfield.
Did the same with Walcott too.
Every other manager plays people in their natural position to learn the role. Wenger puts them anywhere but in order to learn the role.


Like when he bought that Henry fella and played him out of position.

Clock-End Mike

That’s why so many players say they’ve come to Arsenal because they want to train under Le Prof. He’s a unique manager, and rather special in that respect. If a player wants to improve, Wenger’s the best man to show him how.


leave him at wingback fffs

Don J A Reyes

I don’t really see Ox as a central player, he is our most effective dribbler, the best one on one player we have. His whole skill set seems to point to an old fashioned winger. It would be interesting to see him play in the Alexis role coming in from the left onto his stronger foot too. I think in the centre he adds good dynamism defensively but is too loose on the ball in tight areas, his instinct is to run with the ball out of trouble, which isn’t a bad thing, but I think suits a touchline hugging… Read more »

dr Strange

What a load of… playing central midfield will develop him into and help him become a central midfielder. Not playing as a wing back.

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