Time to show he can step up to the plate at Arsenal?

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will need to step up his game in a big way over the coming weeks if Arsenal are to stand a chance of winning their first Premier League title in 10 years.

With Theo Walcott ruled out for the season and Aaron Ramsey facing a setback in his return from injury, Arsenal would have been boosted by Oxlade-Chamberlain’s performance on the weekend, in which the midfielder scored both of Arsenal’s goals in a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Upon his own return from a lengthy layoff, it was expected that Oxlade-Chamberlain would pick up where Walcott had left off, playing mostly from the right side of attack. Arsenal are notably light of pace in their squad, with only Serge Gnabry offering a direct outlet in the absence of both England internationals.

But based on Sunday’s result, it may be best for Oxlade-Chamberlain to see most of his minutes through the middle. It’s the position Arsene Wenger feels he’ll end up long-term, as he’s far better on the ball than Walcott and able to play a part in the build up play.

Importantly, Oxlade-Chamberlain also offers drive from the central midfield positions, a contrast to the styles of Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini, who are both more inclined to sit than run at opposition defences while in possession.

In essence, Oxlade-Chamberlain would be seen as a far more likely replacement for Ramsey in the Welshman’s absence.

What Arsenal will also be hopeful of is that the youngster can rediscover the form he showed in his debut season with the club. In the second half of the 2011-12 campaign, Oxlade-Chamberlain put in fantastic performances against Manchester United and AC Milan, playing key roles in goals scored against both teams.

With that, he’s understanding of the task Arsenal face in the coming weeks and shouldn’t be fazed by the big occasions that will meet Wenger’s team between now and the end of the season.

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s two-goal performance against Crystal Palace was certainly not a one off. And with key goal scorers out of action this season, some of the burden will fall to the young midfielder to pick up and continue to drive Arsenal on to silverware this season.

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