Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain became the youngest English Champions League goalscorer of all time last week In Arsenal’s game against Olympiacos and his hat-trick for the England Under-21s in Iceland will do his reputation no harm at all. Despite being just 18 years of age, he seems to have little fear on even the grandest of stages, leading to hopes that he will replace Theo Walcott in the starting line-up. Would this really be a wise move, though?
Many eyebrows were raised when it was revealed that Wenger had completed the £15 million signing of young Chamberlain, but he is looking increasingly like a bargain, with his superb strike against the Greek champions just the icing on a cake after an impressive performance all-round. With two appearances and two goals, it is understandable why Gooners want him in the team sooner rather than later.
However, should this occur, would it have to be Theo Walcott that he replaces? The speedster has been under negative scrutiny in the past couple of seasons because of concerns over his crossing in particular, but is there enough evidence to prove that he doesn’t deserve his place in the team anymore? Walcott bagged 13 goals in 25 appearances last term – a goal every 1.92 games – and contributed 9 assists. If he takes Gooners’ advice and improves on his finishing touches, these impressive stats will only improve. Udinese couldn’t handle him and conceded two in two games from the Englishman, proving that while inconsistent at times, he can still be an impossible opponent, even for the bigger teams. He may be injury-prone but it would be a waste to disregard Walcott completely.
It could work well to have such fast and fairly unpredictable players (hopefully in more good ways than bad) on either flank, with Chamberlain cutting in from the left perhaps and Walcott sticking to his usual right side. With Van Persie in the middle, chances would surely come his way, even if he might have to adjust to Walcott’s improving service. This would mean giving Gervinho a less glamorous role on the bench, but with Chamberlain in such devastating form, there’s no reason why Wenger shouldn’t give it a go.