Opportunity Ox – Liverpool In For Midfielder?

When the story of Liverpool’s interest broke on Sky Sports News last night, they were quick to show footage of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on Goals on Sunday a few months back. Ox answered the question with a straight bat: he’s close to the point in his career where he wants regular first team football, if he’s not already there. A move away from the Emirates can’t be ruled out.

Liverpool’s interest in the midfielder is of no surprise. Arsenal are in a bit of a pickle, PR-wise, over contracts. Leaks that deals were done with the French contingent are yet to prove true while Arsène’s claim that the club were talking to Jack Wilshere was met with bewilderment by the midfielder.

Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil are both (apparently) stalling on deals. Arsenal, it’s suggested in various quarters, are more confident of the German committing his future to the club than the Chilean. That was when we were in good form. God knows what the title hopes all but disappearing for another season has done for the mood.

Did I mention the club taking up the option for an additional year from Santi and Per? Kieran Gibbs is in the same boat as Ox.

It’s little wonder that deals aren’t being completed. Without particularly thinking about it, I’ve come up with a third of the first team squad in talks with the club. That is an unhealthy number at any one point and I haven’t mentioned the manager’s future either.

Flippantly, I suggested yesterday that we might start talks with Team Walcott as they seem to take forever. We need to seriously think about it. He and Chuba Akpom may be the only strikers left at the club come the summer.

Don’t panic indeed.

Issues to address or opportunities?

The talk of players moving on is always thorny. Mid-season, it isn’t going to happen en masse but come next summer, there could well be a big clear-out. It’s time to reassess where the squad is going and which direction the club is moving.

In terms of playing staff, there is a very good squad screaming to get out of the current one. And by ‘get out’, I don’t mean leave, I mean challenge for the title. Who knows, we may buck a trend and challenge this year but it’s so unlikely. We did in 1997/98 from a worse position but the quality of the teams above us then – Manchester United aside – was nowhere near as good as now. But as with then, Chelsea have shown what a long winning run can do for a side.

Except I can’t see us embarking on that kind of run. That Arsène has spoken about the excesses of supporter engagement on social media, as well as referencing the power of positive support in the stadium, tells you about the fragile state of the squad. They aren’t confident at all and the manner of the defeats at Everton and Manchester City is a manifestation of that.

Winning is the only way to recover that belief and a positive sign was the win over West Brom. The XI kept going, pushing for the goal to take three points and when it came, Giroud encapsulated the relief in his celebration, as well as answering his own critics he no doubt felt.

However, with the same type of mistakes undermining their efforts, should we refresh the squad?

Are we there yet?

It doesn’t mean twenty have to leave, simply that once again key positions need to be assessed. However, before that is carried out, Arsène needs to assess his own approach to the game. Is 4 – 2 – 3 – 1 and the habitual passing we’re slipping back into, the route to success? Chelsea’s move to three at the back has seen a rise in the use of 4 – 3 – 3 elsewhere.

Wenger needs to address whether his vision of the game can be successful in England. He can be as single-minded in his pursuit of victory as he likes – and that’s no bad thing either – but only if he’s open to recognising our weaknesses which recur every year. Some can be explained away by having less money to spend in the past but now? It’s questionable whether we don’t have the money or are too narrow in our selection of players to invest in.

Is one delayed deal stalling the others?

These processes should be ongoing at Arsenal but there’s a hiatus at the moment driven by the question over Wenger’s future. A new manager (you hope) will bring fresh ideas and want his own squad. Will that delay our already ponderous approach to signings?

Having scratched their way to the surface and ready to break through, are we sinking back into the mud? Progress is often slow going but It feels like Arsenal are running up the down escalator. Are old habits resurfacing? Arsène will swat away this transfer talk about Ox when he talks to the press. We shouldn’t sell to Liverpool on a point of principle – the Guardian is right to suggest an element of bitterness remains over Suarez. It should do.

However, the question is whether losing Ox this summer is a bad thing for Arsenal in the long-term? That’s not such a straightforward answer. He is of the quality we need in the squad; first team material? Potentially but you can only talk about potential for so long. Delivery on a consistent basis is what is needed.

He’s in the same boat as Jack Wilshere. Both have the talent to succeed at the highest level and Jack is definitely one I would not want to lose. Ox could be the same and a second half of the season in the same vein as the first, should see him in the team ahead of Alex Iwobi in my view.

’til Tomorrow.

45 thoughts on “Opportunity Ox – Liverpool In For Midfielder?

  1. Jonnygunner says:

    I don’t want us to lose the Ox but he just doesn’t seem to be coming up with the goods on a regular enough basis

  2. andy1886 says:

    Morning.

    Arsene wouldn’t sell the Ox to Liverpool, he knows that there is a very good player in there somewhere and if Klopp brings out the best in him how does that reflect on AW? Because that’s a claim that can be made about many of the players – their quality isn’t in doubt, but the manager cannot seem to get them to perform consistently to the highest standards either individually or as a team. If he goes the club will try to sell him abroad, even if it means less money.

    I fully expect there to be some players leave in the next nine months, some decent ones too, then we’ll rebuild (again) and complain about treacherous players taking the money (rather than leaving to try and win things) but ultimately the change at the top is the only one that is going to make a difference. And it could be for the better or the worse, but even so that would be preferable to the tedious deja vu seasons we ‘enjoy’ with the current incumbent.

  3. Orson Kaert says:

    Good morning, many of us here on ACLF have grave doubts about the Ox but to sell him to a direct competitor would be the height of folly. Tell Klopp to poke his £25 million where the Sun don’t shine!

    The more I think about the situation, the clearer it becomes that the main problem is the confusion that surrounds just one man, Arsene Wenger, it’s time for him to piss or get off the pot!

  4. HenryB says:

    Interesting stuff, Yogi.

    Someone at the club will no doubt have a plan – won’t they? – but we seem to be the only top club who get into a pickle with player contracts, and other than Walcott who likes to string things out over aeons, [Get rid -sorry C] 🙂 these problems for the rest seem to come as a collective (a gaggle?) of players, and does not reflect well on the club management.

    For the record, I am not one of the Orse’s ‘many’ who have ‘grave doubts’ about the Ox [sounds like a farm yard] 🙂 as I think, like you, that he has everything to be a top guy in the near future, when or if, that is, he gets a proper run in the team, rather than be messed around with all this bits and pieces [of minutes] that he has to make do with at the moment.

    I love the Orse, but for anyone inclined to agree with his player evaluations, especially as regards the Ox, he did once tell me that in his opinion Sanogo was fast and scored goals — yup – that’s true – altho in fairness that was in another part of the blog world when we both hid under other aliases, until we came here to Sin City ACLF, where we could revert to our real names. 😀

  5. Orson Kaert says:

    HenryB,

    Lies, untruths, deceit, fabrication, myth, calumny, aspertion, misrepresentation, falsehood, distortion. I’ve never said anything in the slightest way complimentary about Sanogo. In fact I think the least derogatory thing that I’ve ever said about him is that he is a waste of a perfectly good skin.

  6. Orson Kaert says:

    As to somebody at Arsenal having a plan, they all have a plan, a plan of the human body, as none of them can find their own arsehole without help.

  7. Paulie Walnuts says:

    There’s a top player somewhere in The Ox , but for a lot of reasons we rarely seen him.

    If we played with wing backs he’d be perfect (as would Hector) but he seems to be in a cycle of injuries & loss of confidence which I can only see changing by moving club or working for a new manager.

    BTW , just who authorised the nuts decision to offer Per another year ?

  8. kelsey says:

    we don’t know for sure but as football is a business one has to plan for now and the future. Mertesacker,Cazorla,Monreal,Gibbs,Debuchi,Wilshere and even Ramsey,The Ox ,Walcott, to name just a few could possible leave or be sold and then again our big earners can’t seem to get a deal done.There is a lot wrong at the club but as I have said before AW will eventually retire then we are faced with the bigger problem of Kroenke who clearly will be looking for another bank manager to look after his interest.It’s a very complex and unique situation at Arsenal.

  9. Orson Kaert says:

    kelsey,

    Happy new year to you and yours, I hope all is well.

  10. C says:

    Ox, Ramsey, Jack, Gibbs; they are all in the same boat: talented with potential to be impact players at top clubs BUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT struggle to stay fit, struggle to hold down a starting berth when given the opportunity of a run of matches and lastly, struggle to be consistent. At some point, I think we have to stop using potential with Ox given the amount of matches that he has played for Arsenal (172 appearances in all competitions); he has to start showing some consistency. I know he is still relatively young so time in some ways is on his side, but on the other hand, his lack of development is a worry.

    As far as the deals go, I do think that Ozil will re-sign, but Sanchez maybe the worry.

  11. C says:

    O and Debuchy, for somebody that hasn’t stayed fit either at Arsenal or during his loan spell in France; he sure does talk a lot about how much he doesn’t like being at Arsenal and working and dealing with Arsene.

  12. C says:

    With that said, if we could sell Ox and bring in either Dembele (striker/winger from Celtic or the one form Dortmund), Reus or somebody of that quality, I would do that in a heartbeat.

  13. Bill says:

    What a fantastic post yogi. Filled with enough talking points and debatable subjects that we spend the whole day talking about.

    The Ox is an incredibly physically talented athlete. He has pace, power, and a canon of a shot with both feet and he can use both feet. He is not a technical wizard but he has more then enough technical skill to be effective. He has always been one of my favorite players and I think 100% of us thought that it was just a matter of time before he became a high level impact player. Its just never come together for him. For now he is versatile and can play both wings and play midfield in an emergency and he has played RB when we are chasing a goal which makes him a good squad player but he is certainly not the impact player we all thought he would be by now. I don’t think we should sell him to a top of table rival such as Liverpool but other then that if we can get a good price and raise some cash to buy a better player then we should pull the trigger.

  14. Bill says:

    I think the biggest problem for Ox is that he has never developed into a goal scoring threat. Ox has all of the physical talents you would ever need to score a lot of goals. However, predicting which players will learn the art of scoring goals is almost impossible and I don’t think you can teach that skill which is why its been so difficult to build our own goal scorers. The upside for any forward is really limited if they are not a threat to score. How many forwards have been first team regulars for long periods of time for any team when they are not a threat to score? Contrast that with someone like Theo. You would not want a whole team of Theo’s because you might never complete a pass and Theo offers almost nothing other then his shooting boots but when he is in form he is incredibly valuable to the team.

  15. Orson Kaert says:

    Bill,

    Jack of all trades but master of none, seems to sum up Oxlade-Chamberlain. Just the sort of player Wenger likes, as you say Bill, striker/midfielder/fullback.

    Even if Wenger agrees to sell him, which I doubt, £25 million for an experienced England international is a derisory transfer fee. Double it at least.

  16. Bill says:

    Regarding Arsene I have to agree with Orson. I think the biggest problem is our team culture has gone stale. I know stale is an undefinable term but I think everyone knows what I mean. Arsene has allowed the team to develop a mindset that accepts top 4 finishes as adequate. No one gets upset when the squad is not mentally or physically prepared to start the season and we drop 5 out of 6 points in the first 2 games. The same thing has been repeated almost every season in this decade. Against Man City, the team with the most technical skill and passing nous in the league can’t even get the ball out of its own end of the field. We made a relatively poor defensive team look better then the 04/05 Chelsea defense. Arguably our best and most important player and our creative lynchpin completely disappears and completes a grand total of 10 passes in the entire game. Its a mistake to try and blame one player or blame tactics because it was another team wide complete mental meltdown against a top 4 opponent that has been repeated so many times. Instead of looking in the mirror and admitting we have a problem, Arsene looks for excuses and blames our travel schedule. Think of the list of excuses that we have used over the years. How can you ever fix a problem if you are not willing to admit you have one?

  17. Orson Kaert says:

    Bill,

    I could accept a loss against a top class side, just, but it’s the failure to beat and, beat by a margin, the minnows that gets my goat.

    The ethos of the whole club needs to change and that will only come about with the departure of Arsene Wenger.

  18. Steve Palmer1 says:

    Afternoon all,
    Dealings with Liverpool about anything, should be avoided at all costs. Our last dealings with that Northern club was a disaster, Our manager and our club were tarnished and ridiculed and branded a cheapskate club.

    Wenger of course does not hold grudges and should Chamberlain want to go then Wenger will not stand in his way, all i would say is to ask a lot more money than that, Wenger should laugh that price off as offensive, and tell the press that Liverpool are taking the piss.

    Of course we know Wenger has not got that traight, if he feels that the Ox would benefit he would agree. We are not as cash strapped as we used to be , sp i would expect Wenger to say Liverpool have not offered Arsenals Valuation of the player, after all he is English and English players are said to be expensive. After all they sold Suarez the next season for many millions more than what we offered, so in my book we ought to increase the amount equally.

    Even better we should just say, that he is not for sale to a direct rival. Should he be sold, depends on the price. Everybody is for sale at the right price, if it should be a direct rival, they have to dig very deep

  19. Bill says:

    Orson

    Regarding Ox, I think its very difficult for a forward to be effective and be consistently influential over the long term if they are never a legitimate threat to score. There are probably some exceptions to that generalization but I think history supports my contention.

    Almost every team gets the majority of its goals from the forward line and if you have one player who is never a threat that means that all the pressure to carry the team is on the remaining forwards. That would work if you get lucky the way Leicester did last season when Vardy and Mahrez both stayed healthy and in good form for a whole season but how often has that ever happened to us?

    That is why I have never liked Arsene’s tactical obsession with using at least one player with a central midfielders skill set as one of our wide forwards.

  20. Bill says:

    Orson

    Fair enough. I can accept an occasional loss to a top team but if you look at the numbers, our record against the top of the table is significantly worse then the other “big clubs” for the entire Emirates era and that can’t be acceptable if the objective is to win the league title.

    The culture that has developed accepts the fact that we have had roughly 1/2 season of good football and good results and 1/2 a season of poor results every year for the entire Emirates era.

  21. Orson Kaert says:

    Bill,

    I think that equates to the normal game situation, twenty minutes of total domination, during which time if we score a couple of goals we usually get three points. If we don’t score its one point at best.

    When did we past play a game which we dominated for the full ninety minutes? Too often we don’t start playing until we are a goal down. That situation has to change.

  22. Bill says:

    Orson

    Nothing really has to change because the things we are doing have been highly successful if we are satisfied with a top 4 finish every year. That does not mean that Arsene does not want to compete for league titles or go deep in the CL, however, he is comfortable with the status quo and still believes in his vision for how to run a club. Any major change brings some risk into the equation and there has never been enough motivation to move away from the comfort zone and change the status quo as long as we always finish the season in acceptable position.

  23. C says:

    Reports say Jenks is set to leave via loan or permanently with a couple clubs already saying they have bid.

  24. C says:

    Steve Palmer1,

    I don’t agree with Arsene would let him leave. Campbell, Bendtner, Debuchy, Poldolski are just a few players that both the player and Arsene have said they wanted to leave but he stopped them from leaving. I doubt Arsene would also let Ox leave because, like Ramsey, Jack and Gibbs, Arsene wants to be the one that says, “see I told yall they were quality and they did it for Arsenal.”.

  25. C says:

    With Draxler now at PSG, we should make a bid for Jese.

  26. C says:

    Bill,

    Bill:
    Arguably our best andmost important player and our creative lynchpin completely disappears and completes a grand total of 10 passes in the entire game. Its a mistake to try and blame one player or blame tactics because it was another team wide complete mental meltdown against a top 4 opponent that has been repeated so many times.

    That made me chuckle, not to blame him, buttttttttt 😉

  27. Bill says:

    C:

    That was certainly the most surprising and revealing stat that gave some evidence of just badly we melted down against Man City. Perhaps even more frustrating to me is the fact that rather then admit how bad the team, Arsene focused on our travel schedule we had to find someone to focus attention on and in this case it was Le Coq. It really was not anyone’s fault other then the team wide mental capitulation. The next game against West Brom we go from being unable to complete a pass and get out of our own end of the pitch to Xhaka completing 135 out of 141 passes and Ozil making 122 passes. Tippy tappy returned and that will be just as problematic over the long term if we continue to play the way we did against West Brom. IMO.

    All of that said, the reality is that I just could not resist throwing that stat into my comment. Its a character flaw. 😉

  28. C says:

    Bill,

    The good thing is that fewer teams are actually parking a bus like West Brom. I get what your saying and it is night and day. The other thing that it does show (and I’m not sure how Ozil is the topic when Ox is the main post) is that he wasn’t actually receiving the ball as well, they cut the supply line.

    I know you can’t resist with certain players.

  29. C says:

    Back Ox and his inconsistencies and lack of development.

    He has 170 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions, and only approx 20 goals combined. Even with all the potential and match time he has received, you would think he would have stumbled into 30+ goals.

  30. Bill says:

    C

    Ramsey has probably become the biggest opinion divider on the squad and if he had started the Man City game and only completed 10 passes then you know with 100% certainty that everyone would have focused on Aaron disappearing and not making himself available to receive passes. No one would have been looking to find an excuse for why the ball never got to him.

    Clearly poor play from the rest of the team will hurt everyone and cutting down the supply line will make it more difficult for anyone to be effective but every player has to be responsible for his own form and they have to adapt to what is happening on the pitch. Our best players are the ones who have the best chance to be able to do something to make a difference when we are struggling. Completing 10 passes in the whole game does not count as trying to make something happen, at least in my opinion.

  31. Bill says:

    C

    We have seen over the years teams tend to get more pragmatic as we get closer to squeaky bum time and deep lying defense and hitting on the break has always been the easiest way for mid and lower table team to take points when they play us. We have also seen the more often we fall back on tippy tappy habit and struggle to score the more often teams will park the bus.

    I don’t think anyone doubts that Ox has not lived up to expectations. He is still a versatile player that we can use in several different positions and he does have some upside because he will occasionally make something good happen when he runs at defenders on the wing. No team has a squad with 25 difference making players and your squad players are by definition not as good as your first 11. For me the bottom line is that Ox is a decent squad player right now with still some potential upside to be a late bloomer. No good reason to jettison him unless we can get a surprisingly big transfer fee and use that money to buy an expensive difference making player. I hope that makes sense.

  32. -DFS says:

    It’s funny. I mentioned The Ox improving under a manager such as Klopp yesterday with not the faintest idea the transfer (since dismissed) rumor had arisen. However…there is a sort of denial within football about ‘potential’ and ‘quality’. It’s the nature of the game.

    If Oxlade Chamberlain (or others) played another sport, how would he be described as quality? He is oft described as an exceptional athlete due to his pace…but how exceptional would he be as an erratic tennis player? A golfer who could never hit the green? Footballers enjoy an extremely expanisive definition of quality.

  33. Adam Singh says:

    We appear to have a lot of players coming towards the end of their contract, maybe it’s normal, didn’t spuds have a load of their players recently sign new contracts. It’s a concern though given some of the past problems. Although Wenger said he expects to Ozil and Sanchez to be here for the next 18 months regardless of whether they sign. Mind you what else would he say?

  34. C says:

    Bill,

    I’m not saying get rid of Ox, but I also think for as much as you talk about goal scorers on thr wing, his goal scoring prowess or lack thereof is interesting. Nobody doubts that he has the talent but he needs to start producing plain and simple. We jettisoed Campbell and Perez doesn’t play to afford him match time. He is set to turn 24 in the summer with 170 appearances to his name, its put up or shut up time especially when the talk was he was a better prospect/talent/player than Sterling but one is producing and one can’t stay fit / gives Arsenal moments at best.

  35. C says:

    Speaking of Ox, a couple reports and outlets are saying he wants a deal to match Bellerin’s. Sorry, he doesn’t deserve that pay raise or anything close to it as one player has established himself as arguably the best at his position in the PL and one of the best in Europe while the other is and inconsistent at best.

    I wonder if these reports are true, will people respond to them like they did when Ozil and Sanchez had reports saying they wanted to be paid like a top 5 player at their respective positions?

  36. C says:

    Jonny,

    It could be mate, Tevez has landed in China and reports say the transfer was for 85m with him on 500+k/wk.

  37. Buckagh says:

    C,

    I seriously doubt he has the mentality to push on I think he is long past the development stage along with others, they have come through football academies and been around, in, and out of club first teams and internationals teams for years and still have no consistency at elite level

  38. -DFS says:

    Regarding the Renaldo ‘offer’ – it’s a claim by Jorge Mendes and my guess would be he is trying to place himself in the centre of things, but it’s utterly contrived.

    The Chinese situation is like the MLS situation on steroids to date…players at the end of their career (Tevez) on those on low ebb (Oscar), but I am not sure the throwing of reckless amounts of money will last long.

    The development of Chinese professional football has been pushed by President Xi Jinping with a number of wealthy individuals and corporations willing to play ball. There appear huge sums available but there are fault lines visible.

    Where is a viable turnover let alone profit? Several parties can be press-ganged into supporting directly, or via sponsorship but where is the ROI?

    Two further points.

    Asia/China are obsessed with the EPL and to some degree the European Leagues. Though many Asian countries have domestic leagues (Japan, Korea, China, Thailand etc) and enjoy a level of support, the citizens are in no doubt it is an inferior product. No matter which player moves to China, its not going to approximate the level of interest week to week in Manchester United or Liverpool etc.

    Finally, there is a political risk in what is being undertaken.

    The Chinese (population)are not idiots. They are aware this is a government/private enterprise push and the idea a string of players, not at the peak of their career, will receive vast sums of money (more than they could receive in Europe etc) to come and play in China has many frowning. It makes the country look frivolous and frankly stupid. That this has become a so called priority for Chinese society at this stage of it’s development is dubious if not obnoxious.

    We’ll see another year or two of idiotic money thrown at the Chinese FA. However, if they cannot immediately attract the future/rising stars of the game (not Renaldo close to retirement) then the current frenzy will pass and all we’ll see is a Chinese version of MLS retirement boondoggle.

  39. YW says:

    http://wp.me/p3nJ9V-6eV

    Boondoggle? Is that a real ale? I genuinely couldn’t face a drink this morning. When does January begin and the Christmas alcohol intake can fall back to normal levels…

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