Let the hyperbole begin. Arsenal’s Community Shield victory, just the latest episode in their growing ever bitter rivalry with Chelsea, brings with it high expectations for the upcoming season.
The Gunners may be ready to mount a serious title challenge for the first time in years, only time will tell. What is for sure, however, is that the fortune of England international Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be crucial to their chances.
Scoring the winner in the tradition curtain-raiser, ‘The Ox’ terrorised one of the best defences in Europe all afternoon. Right sided wing rivals Raheem Sterling and Theo Walcott have earned pay increases this summer, making headlines in the transfer window. Meanwhile, the ex-Saint has quietly been getting on with his business, trying to overcome his injury problems.
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Walcott has recently signed an extension at the Emirates, reportedly earning £140,000-a-week. After almost a decade of service, perhaps he is more entitled than Chamberlain to earn that sort of money, but the 21-year-old should not be too far behind.
He is one of the most exciting young players in Europe, and often gets forgotten about behind flashier names.
Sterling completed a protracted saga to Manchester City in a £49m deal earlier this summer. In that sort of mega-money world, what would Oxlade-Chamberlain be worth? Man City’s new man is also a hugely exciting prospect, but his international team mate has already achieved more.
Two FA Cup medals and two Community Shields is not the most packed of trophy cabinets, but still quadrupoles’ that of Sterling’s. It is hard to directly compare two versatile, dynamic young internationals at this stage of their careers, and the term ‘better’ may not be the best to use.
However, the Gunner provides a lot more of an end product than the £49m man. The City bosses are unlikely to have shelled out that sort of money for what Sterling has done, more at what he might do. This is not to say that Oxlade-Chamberlain is the end product, but using that kind of logic, he would surely be worth more.
Stunning performances in big games, against the likes of Bayern Munich, Manchester United and now Chelsea are what ‘Chambo’ is all about. His all action approach is reminiscent of team-mate Alexis Sanchez, and his versatility allows him to operate either out wide or through the middle.
End product is the only product to write home about in top level football. The belter to secure a second Community Shield was only half the story in an excellent performance at Wembley. This was £49m-esque performance against the current champions. It is not his first. Surely it will not be his last.
Injury problems may affect any hypothetical price for the Gunner, but at just 21-years old, it is still likely to be upwards of £40m. Perhaps Sterling comes as more of a marketing package, but ‘The Ox’ is undoubtedly stronger.