By Bulldog Drummond
In the build up to this match Arsène Wenger has been talking a little about Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and his importance to the club saying, “I personally think it’s vital that Chamberlain stays at Arsenal. We bought him when he was very young and built him up. He has a great mentality and a good football brain and it would be big damage for us to lose this kind of player.”
As to when the matter will be resolved, Mr Wenger added, “It will be done this year. We have to keep them all. Ramsey, Chamberlain, Wilshere, Gibbs. All these players we have to make decisions and manage to keep them together.”
Certainly seeing the Ox transform himself from winger into a deep lying central midfielder has been particularly interesting – and not something I saw many people in the media predicting. As a possibility it certainly passed me by – but then to be fair quite a bit does.
And despite the return of Santi Cazorla – another player who has been transformed in that new position (although ducks and water come to mind when thinking about how he made the move there) – and the assumed returned of Jack Wilshere, the way Mr Wenger was speaking suggests he sees the Ox as the long term player for that role.
Mr Wenger added of the Ox, “He’s offensive and you can feel as well that he’s a guy who can get out of pressure because of his dribbling skill. And he has penetrating skills and in midfield that is important. I find as well that sometimes on the flank he is out of the way. In the middle he’s more focused, he needs to be involved in the game. He’s a player who likes to take the ball and go at people. He can lose balls but defensively he is strong in the challenge. He has that kind of robustness to deal with the body-to-body that is very important in the Premier League.”
As for today, we play the team that went looking for the Big Sam Bounce. The Large One joined the Palace on 23 December 2016, after his latest escapade into the realms of rule breaking, and those who crave managerial change as the solution to problems will undoubtedly have been interested in his form.
And yes he has had the bounce, but not at first. Here are the results after the addition of extra weight on the bench…
|21||14.01.2017||West Ham United||away||L0-3||17|
|27||04.03.2017||West Bromwich Albion||away||W2-0||17|