AC Milan vs. Arsenal: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Gunners' Key in Champions League
Milan will look to benefit from their home-field advantage and put pressure on the Gunners in the second leg. Arsenal, on the other hand, will look to play a low-scoring game and steal an away goal.
If Arsenal is to have success tomorrow in Italy, they will rely heavily on the play of youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has earned a starting position with the club after impressive training sessions and strong performances off the bench, and also as Gervinho has been on international duty with the Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has taken full advantage and then some of his opportunity to play regularly with the first team.
He has shown that he is in extraordinary form since making his first Premier League start against Manchester United. In that game, he was persistent on the attack throughout the match.
Against Bolton at the beginning of the month, Oxlade-Chamberlain displayed his ability to link up play and complete intricate passes in the attacking third of the field.
Oxlade-Chamberlain brings another dimension to the club. He has great speed and runs with his head up, which allows him to see the field as well as anyone and make the dangerous passes he has to.
He has also shown that he knows when to play back with the opposition. This will be especially important considering the ill-timed news on Arsenal’s left-back and German international Per Mertesacker and the ankle injury he sustained on Saturday against Sunderland. Mertesacker will miss at least the first leg in Italy.
The link up play on the left side may hurt without Mertesacker, but Oxlade-Chamberlain has the ability to make up for the loss and set up the Arsenal attack while dropping back when needed.
Oxlade-Chamberlain showed a knack for finding the back of the net, as he scored twice for the Gunners in a 7-1 Premier League match rout of Blackburn.
Manager Arsene Wenger and the team have relied heavily upon skipper Robin van Persie this year to score goals. Thus far, there is no clear answer to who can compliment RVP and shoulder some of the offense and goal scoring. But if anybody looks poised to be an added threat to the Arsenal attack, Oxlade-Chamberlain is the man.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has proven that he can score goals and create chances to score. If van Persie is unable to net a goal, Oxlade-Chamberlain can attack from the left wing and get Arsenal on the board.
While van Persie has carried Arsenal throughout this season, and is undoubtedly indispensable for the Gunners to have success in the Premier League and Champions League, he cannot do it by himself. With Theo Walcott on the right wing and Oxlade-Chamberlain on the left, the Arsenal attack has been in much better form lately.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has proved that the club is better off with him on the pitch and he will play a vital role in the success of Arsenal in the Champions League.
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