Time for Wenger to utilise his £15m Plan B?

The internet’s all abuzz with hyperbole and hype concerning the performance of one of Arsenal ’s recent signings. Anybody who doubted the credentials of a certain Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will surely be forced to change their tune upon viewing his performance for the England U21’s against Israel.

England were trailing by a goal to nil at half-time, before Stuart Pearce introduced the 17-year-old into the proceedings. It’s fair to say that he changed the game, chalking up 3 assists and winning a penalty as the Three Lions went on to win the game 4-1. To have such a positive effect on a game at such a young age will no doubt have pundits sitting up and taking note.

We’ve heard tale of his wonderful performances in a Southampton shirt, but this could well go down as the game where he announced himself on a ‘grander’ stage.

What’s impressive about Oxlade-Chamberlain isn’t just his absurd, matchless pace, but also his decision making process. Whilst Theo Walcott is still subjected to claims that he has no ‘footballing brain’ and that all too often he makes the wrong decision, Oxlade-Chamberlain has demonstrated on numerous occasions, that he’s an extremely effective player.

He seems to have a natural ability to cross the ball (see his first assist from the England-Israel game) and this in combination with his pace, will surely be an asset for the Gunners over the coming seasons. But is he ready to make the step-up into the first team just yet?

One thing’s clear: Arsenal have lacked a player who can deliver a decent cross for quite some time. Walcott’s crossing is much too sporadic, Arshavin doesn’t float too many balls into the area and the Arsenal full-backs aren’t much better (except, perhaps Bacary Sagna). The likes of Robin Van Persie and Marouane Chamakh could no doubt benefit from Oxlade-Chamberlain’s deliveries.

The reverse of this argument is that Arsenal don’t really cross, because the strikers at the club aren’t renowned for their aerial prowess. The Gunners aren’t a team that score too many headers outside of set-pieces. I’d argue that this is something that they should be looking to add to their game. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s ability in this regard is something that should be encourage and utilised, not neglected.

For the time being, I’m sure we’ll mostly be seeing Alex ply his trade for Arsenal in the Carling Cup and perhaps in the early rounds of the FA Cup. This could well be a good occasion for the Gunners to attempt a different style of game play. Would it be so bad to see players bust a gut to get into the box as Oxlade-Chamberlain whips in a cross? This could well be the ‘Plan B’ that every pundit and his dog claims the Gunners lack.

Read more of Harry Cloke’s articles at This is Futbol
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