Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a bright light on a yet moody sky of Arsenal. An emphatic victory over Blackburn Rovers has yet to clear the atmosphere of bitterness and rancor that has overtaken the Grove in the last few days.
Fans are scared.
A real possibility of finishing outside England's elite four looms at the door.
"What's to be done?" the question rings.
And it's the right question, but the answers offered might not be the right ones, although a few of them might sound very sweet.
One of the answers has been to unleash the Ox, as some are calling Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsenal's latest wunderkind.
Yours truly cannot help but be self-referential here. Here's what I wrote in my review of the Blackburn match.
AOC is a delight to watch. I'd say it was a five-star performance from him. Watching him must bring a lot of encouragement to Arsenal fans: the future can only be bright.
If I caution anything, it is overpraising him to the skies only to condemn him when the inevitable bad run of form comes.
It has happened to Andrei Arshavin and Theo Walcott. In fact, even Marouane Chamakh, who began last season on a splendid form.
So let's praise him, but while we do, we should remember to support him when he needs us most, when the bad form strikes.
A fellow Gooner responded in the comments section:
It's great to see someone who actually knows something about youth development. Aoc is immense, and I see fans everywhere clamoring to have him into the first team squad every week, but we must realise the implications of that.
He is only 18 and over-using him like we did Wilshere might have a similar effect on his fitness. And of course it only takes 1 bad game to lower his confidence and start a bad run of form. When that happens, he won't be running at defenders as confidently as he did. I wonder what will be the reactions of the fans then.
At the start of the season you think: "I will play him 20 games, maybe 25," but after they deliver a performance, they play 45 and then they play for the national team and then they get injured. It is very difficult to manage because people understand very quickly what kind of influence the players have and you want to win the game so you play them.
I don't know where I have seen it, but 70 percent of the players who play very early in many, many games have stress fractures. In England the intensity of a game is higher.
Robin van Persie concurs:
Alex is a big prospect. Everyone is enjoying watching him, I do, you do and he brings something extra to the game and people just love it.
But don't put too much pressure on him. You always have periods when you are young when you have really high highs, then you go up and down until you balance it a bit better.
He will have ups and will have periods when he is not playing so well, so my advice is to be aware of it and be patient.
To my fellow Gooners, let's be excited, but let's not contribute to killing a career before it begins.
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