An Arsenal Hero That Never Was

Aged 18, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain burst onto the footballing scene with Southampton as a baby-faced teenager. A lightning fast winger, Chamberlain made 36 appearances with the Saints and netted on nine occasions. Observant readers will notice the eerily similar development to that of fellow winger, Theo Walcott. Walcott was a fresh-faced teen on the South Coast, but he was just 16 years old when he made his first appearance for Southampton first team in a championship game. The two Englishmen were fellow wingers at the Emirates and have followed a very similar path in their respective development.

Walcott cost the Gunners £5 million initially, rising up to £12 million depending on club and country performances. According to various media sources, his “successor” cost Arsenal £12 million up-front…rising up to a staggering £15 million depending on performances. Such vast amounts of money spent on these two players are significant for a number of reasons not least the fact the manager Arsene Wenger is notorious for being extremely protective of his club’s transfer budgets. However, the wily Frenchman took an exception in these two cases and it is a clear sign of the huge amount of trust and faith he put into these young, precocious talents.

Yet, in 132 appearances, Oxlade-Chamberlain yielded just nine goals and the Portsmouth-born midfielder never really fulfilled his potential with the Gunners. Mostly operating down the right flank he was more willing as he was setting up goals, but he was far eclipsed by the likes of Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil. Walcott by contrast managed 65 goals in his Arsenal career, playing largely in the same position that Chamberlain occupied albeit over double the time span that Chamberlain remained at the club.

What remains to be seen is whether Chamberlain can resurrect his career under Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool. He has started brightly for the Reds, scoring a big goal against champions Manchester City back in January of this year. He has had to settle for a place on the bench on numerous occasions, something which was becoming a regular occurrence in the latter stages of his tenure at the Emirates.

 

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