20-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal Football Club declared jokingly on twitter his covetousness and an obvious but underlying desire to own the No. 10 shirt currently worn by his team mate and compatriot, Jack Wilshere. Alex got hold of a nameless Arsenal No. 10 shirt while preparing for Arsenal’s pre-season friendly, which they lost by 1-0 to Thiery Henry’s New York Red Bulls on Saturday. Oxlade-Chamberlain who secured a move away from Southampton in 2011, wears the No. 15 jersey, previously worn by Cesc Fabregas and Denilson for Arsenal. He took to twitter and wrote ‘’Might have to rob this number off Wilsh soon….@JackWilshere tell me suttin…. #No10 #Arsenal’’ – Alex Ox-Chamberlain (@Alex_OxChambo) July 26, 2014.
Chamberlain, together with Wojciech Szczesny and Lukas Podolski, in the Arsenal squad, are generally known as the pranksters or the wags of the lot for their playful and humorous stints during camp or training periods. However, Alex’s statement on twitter may have a more serious meaning underlying the comics. On one hand, one would think he is probably expressing his love by comically coveting the jersey number 10 or more sensibly, the role of a playmaker, operating centrally offensively. It won’t make much sense, if he was referring to the number 10 jersey because, if the jersey number is a reflection of the most creative of the midfielders in any club, then Zinedine Zidane, wouldn’t have worn jersey number 5 for Madrid in his playing days; Jack Wilshere wouldn’t even be 3rd choice in Arsenal for the jersey, with the likes of Ozil, Cazorla and even Ramsey, coming before him, as he hasn’t really justified the jersey number he wears; a certain defender called William Gallas wouldn’t have worn the number 10 for Arsenal. Therefore, we can reach a logical assumption that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, though, clowning, is particular about the role and not the number.
Though, a fine player and potent threat offensively, an abundance of quality in the middle of the pack, portends a long wait for the former Southampton player who many believe hasn’t got his best playing time for Arsenal because of the choice of compatriot and former club mate, Theo Walcott, on the right side of attack. The aspiration of every young player is to succeed in a preferred position or a position his manager thinks fits his style of play and so far, Chamberlain hasn’t got that desire fulfilled at Arsenal. He’s been playing bit-part roles in different positions in the midfield from right to left and even centrally, when he’s match fit. Several indications have shown to us fans, that, Alex is poised for the middle. Even Wenger himself, speaking after the 3-0 win in the 2011/2012 European Champions’ League round of 16 match over AC Milan at the Emirates, confirmed the fact that he’d grow into a central role. The manager had previously suggested, speaking to Arsenal Player that he sees the then 18-year-old player’s future in that position, but admitted there is development needed.
Mesut Ozil, signed last summer in a club record deal worth around £42m, came with a pedigree of being the king of assists operating just behind the main striker or most times orchestrating offensive play centrally. With the likes of Ozil, 26, who is obviously first choice attacking midfielder; Ramsey, 24, whose sterling performance last season as an attacking midfielder saw him grab Arsenal Player of the season award and Wilshere, 22, who has shown enough potential to be given the number 10 jersey; the hope of Alex playing centrally in a short time looks very bleak. This may not be an issue for the young man yet, but when reality sets in, he may demand a move to a club, especially in the English Premier League, willing to give him his desired playing position and this may not augur well for Arsenal.