The Ox must be unleashed

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In the aftermath of Swansea City’s eye-catching victory over Arsenal on Sunday, something was lost in amongst Arsene Wenger’s referee rant.


It was the fact that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made just his second Barclays Premier League appearance for the Gunners.


The first of these was a half hour in the 8-2 embarrassment at Old Trafford, not one of Wenger’s best decisions.


The Emirates Stadium crowd have been calling for more sights of the 18-year-old prodigy Arsenal signed from Southampton this summer.


It is not often a baying football audience can be called right, but this time they may just be.


Oxlade-Chamberlain was given just over ten minutes to help salvage a game that Wenger’s more established and trusted stars had failed to dominate.


This was just over ten minutes against an inspired Swansea side who were being irresistibly urged to victory by their fervent home support.


Just over ten minutes to make a difference against a defence that had only just conceded two goals in a home game for the first time this season.


Although not as spectacular a victory as Manchester United’s mauling in August, this appearance could prove to be more damaging.


‘The Ox’ has now twice been thrown in to situations where the likelihood of success is slight and psychologically damaging failure overwhelmingly possible.


There is the reality that must be faced which decrees that if a player wants to make it to the top of the profession he must be able to make a positive impact no matter how long he is on the pitch.


This would be acceptable if the player concerned was an established professional or even a player who had maybe half a season of Premier League football behind him.


Even more astonishing was the criticism some especially short-sighted commenters made of the England Under-21 winger’s performance.


Despite not having much opportunity to have an impact while on the pitch, he did provide one quality cross that Tomas Rosicky volleyed well over when he could have done so much better.


Chances being wasted in such a manner seem to be the current trademark of this Arsenal team and wasted by established stars.


You can forgive Oxlade-Chamberlain if reports of his frustration are true, as it must be infuriating to see Andrei Arshavin and Theo Walcott given numerous and fail to take them.


Both the Russian and the England international were almost anonymous yesterday, with Arshavin rightly removed and Walcott taking his goal well in an otherwise disappointing display.


When things are not going so well, as they are now, when does the point come where you think ‘why not?’ and give a young man who has obvious talent a real opportunity to show it when it matters?


Arsenal’s league position has slipped considerably over the past 12 months and while defensive displays are ultimately to blame, the lack of a consistent performer to support Robin van Persie is just as worrying.


The others have had chance after chance and have failed to impress. It is time to throw caution to wind – release The Ox!

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