Layth Yousif’s latest Rewind column on Oxlade-Chamberlain’s wing-back Wembley wonders
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Ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League match against Leicester City tonight at the Emirates read Layth Yousif’s latest Rewind column as he muses on the Gunners FA Cup semi-final win against Manchester City at Wembley...
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I first interviewed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a couple of seasons back. He struck me as a very thoughtful young lad, who loved the game and wanted to do as well as he could for himself, his teammates, his club and his father – the former professional footballer Mark Chamberlain.
But what also struck me was that he didn’t actually believe how good he could be. There was no admission of course, no public soul searching, it was just a more of a sense of him qualifying statements, not because he didn’t want to come across as big-headed – he’s not – but because he simply didn’t think he could be a superstar.
I thought it was endearing at the time, but it also explains why he hasn’t kicked on as much as he could have done in the intervening years.
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A lack of confidence in your ability is not something many professional footballers admit to, and it’s one The Ox didn’t either, but there was an endearing vulnerability to him which, for me explains why he hasn’t progressed as much as his stunning Bryan Robson-esq performance against Crystal Palace in central midfield three years ago suggested.
Yet his performance on Sunday was sensational. His energy, power, pace, reading of the game, defensive awareness and attacking capabilities as a right wing back were just superb, and a joy to watch.
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He’s played in a variety of positions and hasn’t nailed down a place in any of them – yet maybe his stalled progress wasn’t entirely down to him.
Maybe he was just played in the wrong position.
For on Sunday he announced himself to the world as a wing-back. The rest is now down to him. It’s an exciting prospect if Sunday’s performance is anything to go by.
Get Your Coat
Referee Craig Pawson.
Pawson should not have disallowed the goal that led from Sane’s cross which saw the ball ending up in Cech’s net just before half time. It could have changed the game and gave Arsenal a let-off they capitalised on. No-one in red and white is complaining but for the integrity of the game technology has to be employed for situations like this. Now.
Alexis Sanchez’s winner. Gabriel’s unstinting commitment. Rob Holding showed huge promise as well as a calm head and great technique – as well as a willingness to simply boot the ball into play when required. He will become a better ball-playing centre half than John Stones if he keeps progressing.
The Ox and Nacho Monreal’s superb work as wing-backs. The list is endless.
The fact The Arsenal showed character, unity and pride in abundance on and off the pitch meant it was the most enjoyable game of the season. Bring on the final.