Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has many attributes which are worthy of note. He is known as a midfielder with impressive strength, speed, skill and invention. It seems he can now add good timing to that list.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has finally made his long-awaited return to training with Arsenal’s first team. With Theo Walcott cruelly sidelined for the remainder of the season, his comeback comes at the perfect moment.
It will take him a little time to get up to speed. Players tend to require at least a week or two of full training before being ready to compete in the maelstrom of the Premier League.
However, Oxlade-Chamberlain will soon be able to bring his trademark powerful runs back to the Arsenal team. As he is nursed back to full fitness, he is likely to share duties on the right flank with the emerging Serge Gnabry.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is not a like-for-like replacement for Walcott. He is a better passer and more creative. In the long term, he is likely to develop into a central attacking midfielder.
That said, he does share Walcott’s pace and crossing ability. Olivier Giroud will be delighted, as Oxlade-Chamberlain’s timely return should ensure his supply line shouldn’t dry up for any prolonged period.
Arsenal should have no fears about the youngster’s motivation. Not only is there the mouthwatering possibility of raising his first Premier League title, but he also has a potential World Cup place to focus on.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury has seen him fall out of the World Cup discussion somewhat. In his absence, the likes of Ross Barkley, Adam Lallana and Andros Townsend have had the opportunity to grab headlines and international caps.
However, it’s easily forgotten that Oxlade-Chamberlain has been a mainstay of Roy Hodgson’s squad throughout qualification. Hodgson took him to the European Championships in 2012. With Walcott now out of the running, he must be in the running for 2014.
Speaking to the Guardian, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s excitement was palpable:
Although for now I am just focused on getting back in and around the Arsenal team and helping us do well this season, the World Cup is definitely something I would like to achieve.
As a young guy growing up watching football and watching World Cups, this will be my first one [that I can play in). Obviously I went to the Euros [2012 in Poland/Ukraine], which was an amazing experience – and that's a massive achievement for me personally, especially as an 18-year-old boy. That was really special.
But the World Cup is always that little bit more special because it is the world stage. If I was able to be selected and go to Brazil it would be a dream come true and something that I am definitely striving towards.
Arsenal fans would be proud as punch to see Oxlade-Chamberlain competing in the World Cup.
However, it’s not their priority. First things first: Arsenal have a title challenge to worry about. If Oxlade-Chamberlain plays a part in helping Arsenal lift the Premier League trophy, international inclusion will surely follow.
James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.
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