WHAT A NIGHT OF FOOTBALL!
The amazing and surprising (let me say that…) win against Bayern Munich has left a wonderful feeling, even hours and days after the final whistle.
We have shown solidarity, maturity, composure and desire to see off one of the best teams in Europe and surely one of the favourites to win the tournament.It was a well-deserved win, to which each of our players contributed greatly, and a real tactical masterstroke by Arsène Wenger, who managed to virtually nullify Bayern’s expected domination of the ball.
A truly memorable night at the Emirates Stadium yet…..
Yet, this famous night is tarnished by Aaron Ramsey’s injury.
The Welshman was playing really well, was covering a lot of ground and made the atypical right-wing position his with a lot of intelligent runs – providing a good balance to the whole team.
First reports say he could miss up to six weeks, which would be a big blow: he is likely to miss crucial games such as Bayern away, the North London Derby and possibly Dinamo Zagreb at home, so it is time for one of our guys to step-up and grab his opportunity
Here come the problems: having a look at the options currently available to Arsène Wenger, we easily realize we are quite short in personnel in that area and the only choice for the manager at the moment is to pick Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.
He represents the most-obvious and most-likely option for Arsène Wenger to replace Aaron Ramsey; the Ox was the in-form man during pre-season and the first games, only to fade and logically lose his place in the starting XI.
Fielding him would mean adding directness, speed and flair to the team but also face some tactical indiscipline and a possible lack of cover for Hector Bellerín.
Personally not my favourite choice but I understand Arsène Wenger does not have many players available in that area and could be forced to pick the young Englishman.
His tendency to play with his feet on the by-line could result in a lack of space for Hector Bellerín runs, that are today one of our main weapons, going forward.
I like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but I feel he would be more effective in the role of Alexis Sanchez, with a more defensive-minded full-back behind him like Nacho Monreal.
This could be his best chance to get minutes on the pitch and persuade Arsène Wenger – who looks reluctant to start him – that he’s worth a place in the team.
This is the kind of chance that would have been perfect for Jack Wilshere, the ideal candidate to challenge Aaron Ramsey for the spot on the right-wing. This opportunity could have literally changed Jack Wilshere’s career at the Arsenal and could have propelled him to the role of regular starter for his childhood Club. It is a shame he’s out injured in this precise moment, the team looks very close to find its final shape and he’s at risk of missing the train to become a 40+ games-per-season player at the Arsenal.
The more games are played with the same starting XI, the more he is confined to the status of midfield stopgap – which is a shame for someone with his qualities; he can cover for Francis Coquelin, he can cover for Santi Cazorla, he can cover for Mesut Özil and he can cover for Aaron Ramsey but he has never been a starter, so far.
Exactly like his youth-team companion Francis Coquelin, he needs a chance to make himself undroppable but injuries and bad luck are preventing him to be available when Arsène Wenger has to change his team. The manager is not likely to gamble with his selection again, like he did against Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos, and the team is likely to be the same week in, week out – except for the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup.
The change of approach in midfield and the emergence of the duo Francis Coquelin-Santi Cazorla have drastically restricted Jack Wilshere’s chances to break into the team; the feeling is that Arsène Wenger is no longer considering him for any of those positions but favours a more advanced position, either in the hole or on the right-wing, for the player.
With Mesut Özil virtually untouchable, the chances for our Jacky Boy look slimmer and slimmer.
History has proved that you need to be at the right place, at the right time to change your destiny and the recent rises of Hector Bellerín and Francis Coquelin (and Cesc Fàbregas and Mathieu Flamini before them…) are there to confirm that; they were there when the manager was looking for a solution and they made the most of the chance they were given.
It is painful to see that, now that the train is stopping again, Jack Wilshere isn’t ready; this could have been his golden chance but he is forced to watch from the treatment room, instead.
Hopefully the train will stop again and he will be there to grab his chance but now it is time for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to prove those sceptical know-it-alls like me that he’s the answer to our current crisis.
Up to you, Chambo; help this team to keep flying like we are doing at the moment and made a name for yourself. Who knows, in a few years we might be referring to this period as the moment Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came of age and became undroppable at the Arsenal!