I’m willing to admit that maybe I got my estimation of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s abilities a bit.. wrong. There is a video circulating of a Liverpool supporter mocking Ox’s match against Leicester last night and another which shows all his good touches. To say he had an off night is a bit of an understatement.
Playing on a Liverpool side which made 85% of their passes, Ox completed 80%, the second worst of any outfield player. He only misplaced 10 passes, was only dispossessed 4 times (plus one turnover), took two shots that were just wasted, and failed 2 of his 5 attempted dribbles. He also created zero chances for his teammates and frankly looked like a player well out of sorts. Basically, he looked like the player we saw when Arsenal played Liverpool – except playing FOR Liverpool now he tried to win the ball back which he certainly didn’t do for Arsenal.
I don’t know what happened to Ox. When I saw him play against AC Milan in 2012 he was magnificent. I’ve rarely seen a player that impressive in person. I was converted to the church of the Ox. He was going to have a break out season… any minute now. But it never happened and now that he’s playing for another team I’m feeling a lot less charitable over his mistakes.
The same thing happened to Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere before Ox. I was just a new blogger when Arsenal played Chelsea in the League cup final. That was the match when Theo Walcott opened his Arsenal account, scoring a calm goal from the left channel off a Diaby through ball. Walcott opened his body the way Thierry Henry had done so many times for Arsenal. He was going to be the English Henry. Now he’s just a speedy utility player with a decent cross, good finish, and poor close control. I still think he could score 20 goals a season on a team like Sunderland. I mean, he’s better than Jermaine Defoe.
But the great grand-daddy of wasted talent at Arsenal has to be Jack Wilshere. And it’s a topic we have been over ad nauseum. Sorry/not sorry that I think Jack Wilshere is the most overrated footballer in England. He had one good game against Barcelona in 2011 after which the headlines screamed “Jack Wilshere is the player we have all been waiting for.”
But he wasn’t. His control got worse – instead of losing the ball in tight spaces, he would now routinely lose the ball in open spaces and then lunge to win the ball back, inviting the tackle. He also failed to develop his right leg. And for a player who Wenger touts as having a magnificent footballing brain he failed to fit in at Bournemouth last season.
This Bournemouth failure is important because I think it speaks to Wilshere’s problems as a footballer. Bournemouth are not a talented team. So Eddie Howe makes up for that with well drilled organization. At the critical moment last season, after Bournemouth drew 3-3 to Arsenal, his team took a horrendous dip in form, losing 6 and drawing 1 of their next 7 matches, he dropped Jack. He spared Wilshere’s blushes by saying it was fitness related but he had taken Wilshere off at half time against Man City after Jack had had the worst game of his career.
Howe installed a player who worked better in the system and the team responded with a narrow 2-1 loss to West Brom, a 1-1 draw with Man U, and then two wins. Wilshere came back into the starting lineup but the results faded away again, the draw against Liverpool, the 3-1 loss to Chelsea, and then a horrible match against Tottenham where Jack was injured and wouldn’t play for AFC Bournemouth again that season. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Bournemouth went unbeaten in their last five matches – winning 3 and barely staying up in the Premier League.
I don’t hate Jack Wilshere. I hope he has a fantastic match today and a tremendous season for Arsenal. I actually feel sad for Jack that Wenger failed to develop this young man. Jack never developed his right leg, never honed his close control, never learned how to play defense, and never developed his footballing mind. We can blame his injuries and they surely took a toll but Wilshere was an academy player and was singled out by everyone as the most natural talent Arsenal’s academy had seen. This was a failure of this player’s career at every level: his own personal demons, Wenger’s inability to develop players, Wenger’s lack of tactical discipline with his players, injuries, all failed him.
Insanely, he’s only 25 (he’ll be 26 in January) and he probably has one more contract in him. I don’t think it will be with Arsenal.
I’m recommending a charity called Direct Relief. They have the highest rating from Charity Navigator – a site which ranks charities based on their transparency and on how much of the actual donation goes to the work that the charity purports to do. Direct Relief brings medical care and drugs directly to people in need in emergency situations. I checked their site and they don’t have much listed in regards to hurricane Maria but they are coordinating efforts in the Caribbean after Irma. I also asked their twitter account what they are doing for Maria, specifically for Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and they responded that they are coordinating relief efforts with their partners in the region. They are non-denominational, medical relief, for people affected by natural disaster and poverty. They are also currently sending aid to Mexico City which was ravaged by a 7.1 earthquake. They seem like a great charity and I plan on giving through my work because they have an automatic withdrawal and matching program.
Do your own research, draw your own conclusions. Links below. Stay safe friends.
Ox’s performance against Leicester: