Analysing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's Performance vs. Liverpool

Danny CollinsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2014

Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, right, scores against Crystal Palace during their English Premier League soccer match at Emirates Stadium in London, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Sang Tan/Associated Press

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain continued to underline his World Cup credentials as he played an instrumental role in Arsenal's 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday. 

Oxlade-Chamberlain scored one and set up Lukas Podolski for Arsenal's second to send the Gunners into the quarter-finals.

Stepping up in the 16th minute, Oxlade-Chamberlain pounced on a loose ball that bounced clear following Yaya Sanogo's shot. The 20-year-old turned provider straight after the break as he cruised past Daniel Agger and laid the ball back to Podolski who slotted home to send Arsenal up 2-0.

The Telegraph's Henry Winter was certainly impressed by Oxlade-Chamberlain's display.

It says much for Oxlade-Chamberlain's performance that he was Arsenal's most threatening attacker in the first half. Amongst a raft of stars, including Podolski and Mesut Ozil, it was the England youngster whose star shined brightest.

Nor was he afraid to mix it up with the opposition. Oxlade-Chamberlain was somewhat fortuitous when Liverpool appealed for a penalty after he sent Luis Suarez flying. Reputations often precede the player, and Suarez's acrobatic tumble left Howard Webb unmoved.

Speaking after the match, The Independent's Simon Rice reported that Oxlade-Chamberlain said:

Especially after the result away, we knew we had to turn it around and put in a display. My goal got us off to a good start. We did well to keep it together and hold on.

We have got a massive game (against Bayern Munich) on Wednesday and this win is a confidence boost.

This season has proven to be one of contrasting emotions for the former Southampton youngster. Managed carefully by Arsene Wenger, he had been expected to make a breakthrough into the first team in August. However, a serious knee ligament injury sustained against Aston Villa ruled Oxlade-Chamberlain out until January.

Since then, he has been making up for lost time, hitting two goals in a virtuoso display against Crystal Palace earlier this month. Sunday's display is further evidence that Oxlade-Chamberlain is shaking off the tag of talented youngster and emerging as a player of real pedigree.

Some would argue that his coming of age came with a goal against Brazil for England in the Maracana last summer, as reported by BBC Sport, but Oxlade-Chamberlain's emerging consistency is marking him down as a starter for Roy Hodgson this summer in Brazil.

The FA tweeted this at half-time as Arsenal led 1-0.

Again, he showed his ability to attack out wide, beating Agger for pace and laying back a fine, inch-perfect pass for Podolski. Push him into the middle, and he'll run at defences, using his tremendous upper-body strength to assert himself.

Especially with the injury to Theo Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain is a near certainty to be included in England's World Cup squad. But should he continue with his current form, he will find himself in England starting line-up in Brazil.

After a horrific start to his season, Arsenal's man of the moment could end it on a massive high in Brazil.