There is growing talk that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wants out of Arsenal this summer after snubbing a new contract, and it could be that a shock transfer to Chelsea is on for the England man.
The 23-year-old has been with the Gunners since all the way back in 2011, when he joined as a promising youngster from Southampton, though he hasn’t always looked like living up to his potential.
With a number of injury problems down the years and the failure to nail down a regular position, Oxlade-Chamberlain finally started to show truly top form last season after a move to wing-back.
As Chelsea also play a similar system under Antonio Conte, it seems likely that the England international would be eyed as cover behind Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso on both sides of the defence.
He started at right wing-back against the Blues today as he had the chance to impress his rumoured suitors, but how did he get on?
Oxlade-Chamberlain started brightly as Arsenal, and looked to be one of the main players willing to drive forward and initiate attacks before the whole team largely faded towards the end of the first half.
Still, the wide-man was at the heart of two of the Gunners’ best moves inside the opening 12 minutes. First, he showed neat feet to turn Marcos Alonso on the flank in the 8th minute, though the move ultimately failed to amount to anything as he switched the play to the opposite side.
Confident on the ball, the former Saints man again caused Alonso trouble by running at him in the 11th minute and whipping a good cross in, though Chelsea were equal to it as they managed to clear it away. They then threatened on the break, but the Ox was quick to get back and help break the move down.
Unfortunately the positives ended there for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who seemed to lose sync with his team-mates in attack whilst looking vulnerable at the back as Chelsea grew into the game.
First in the 17th minute and then in the 27th minute, he got into decent positions in Chelsea’s half before cheaply giving the ball away and killing Arsenal’s momentum.
Finally, a poor day at the office was summed up by his role in Chelsea’s third goal, which exposed his lack of positioning and composure at the back in a way that should send alarm bells ringing to Conte if he really is ready to pay big to bring him to Stamford Bridge.
Alonso was initially picked out with a fine long ball by Cesc Fabregas, and had time to take it down due to Oxlade-Chamberlain being nowhere near him. As he eventually got back to try and put pressure on the Spaniard, he dived in recklessly after being beaten by a fine bit of skill, allowing the Blues wing-back to supply the ball for Batshuayi to score and kill the game as a contest.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 22, 2017
In the end, Wenger dragged him off around the 70-minute mark to replace him with youngster Reiss Nelson.
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Not only was Oxlade-Chamberlain poor today, but there seemed a clear gulf in class between himself and Moses and Alonso on the opposite side.
Conte has been linked with new wing-backs all summer, but it’s not entirely clear why when these two were among Chelsea’s finest performers last season, and showing their worth to the side again this afternoon.
It may be that Oxlade-Chamberlain would simply be cover for wing-back, central midfield and even the wide-forward roles at the Bridge, which makes sense given the Blues’ extra games in the Champions League this season.
Chelsea's pre-season fixtures
Chelsea 3-0 Arsenal
July 25 – Bayern Munich (Singapore – International Champions Cup)
July 29 – Inter Milan (Singapore – International Champions Cup)
Aug 6 – Arsenal (Wembley – Community Shield)
Arsenal's pre-season fixtures
Arsenal 2-0 Sydney FC
Arsenal 3-1 Western Sydney Wanderers
Arsenal 1-1 Bayern Munich
Arsenal 0-3 Chelsea
July 29 – Benfica (Emirates Cup)
July 30 – Sevilla (Emirates Cup)
Aug 6 – Chelsea (Wembley – Community Shield)
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Still, the player himself won’t be happy moving from one bench to another, and Chelsea may want to reconsider paying what would obviously be an inflated fee due to the rivalry between themselves and Arsenal.
On this evidence, there’s little to suggest Oxlade-Chamberlain has mastered the wing-back role as well as the players Chelsea already have. Let’s see if this display convinces Conte to change his mind.