Arsenal are a club in the midst of a six-year trophy drought and are facing the prospect of losing two of their best players, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas, in the next few days. Manager Arsene Wenger has never before come under as much pressure from his own fans as he has over the last few months.
With Nasri and Cesc on the way out, replacements are being called for. Big-money replacements. Fans demand that Wenger takes the chequebook out and splashes the cash to bring in top-class replacements for the two players who been the focal point of Arsenal's style of play over the last couple of season.
The recent signing of 17-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton has been dismissed by many as simply the signing "another one of Wenger's kids for the future."
While admittedly Chamberlain's young age means that he shouldn't be expected to start every game, Wenger has just spent £12million, possibly up to £15million with add-ons, to secure the most sought-after prospect English football has to offer.
He has not, in my opinion, spent that kind of money for a player to not play him. I think Oxlade-Chamberlain could play a big role for Arsenal this season as Nasri's replacement. While he may not play every game, I think we'll be seeing quite a lot of him. The only reason he's not higher on this list is because I'm not sure how quickly Wenger will use him, or how he will.
The common misconception about Oxlade-Chamberlain is that he is another Theo Walcott-esque winger; he's not. He's far more than that, and far more talented and well-rounded than his fellow ex-Saint.
Oxlade-Chamberlain's game is based around his short passing, quick movement and vision. That's not to say he's not capable of taking the ball wide and beating his man, but to limit him to that would be an insult to his talent. In an ideal world, he would play as in a midfield trio, acting as the link between the midfield and the attack, partnered by a defensive midfielder and Jack Wilshere who will surely become the hub of the Arsenal team utilizing his quick passing and excellent vision to dictate how Arsenal play.
While many have, correctly, said that Wilshere shows the qualities of the pass-master Xavi in the way he goes about his business, I would put forward the case that Oxlade-Chamberlain has the potential to become Arsenal and England's answer to Xavi's partner in crime for club and country, the mercurial Andres Iniesta.
Now before anyone spills their tea over themselves jumping up to protest such an outrageous comparison between a 17-year-old player coming out of League One and a man who is arguably one of the top five players on the planet, I'm not saying he will be that good, but there's no question he could be that good.
Having followed both of their careers from the age of 15, I have no hesitation in saying that Oxlade-Chamberlain is a better player at the same age. Whether he can take the same large step in improvement that Iniesta did between the ages of 17-22 and become a world-class player remains to be seen but he's at the best club to give him that chance.
One need only look at the aforementioned Wilshere to see Wenger's capabilities with top-class young talent, and while I'm on the subject, Arsenal fans should rejoice that in Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain they not only have two players who will form the creative heart of the England team for the next 15 years or so, they also now have in-house replacements for Nasri (Oxlade-Chamberlain) and Cesc (Wilshere). It may take them a couple of seasons to get up to that level but Wenger's rebuilding of Arsenal, on and off the pitch, has earned him those couple of seasons.
Having those two players means that Wenger can now direct all his spending power on what's really needed: an experienced top-class goalkeeper, a central defender to partner the excellent Thomas Varmaelen, quality width on the left flank and a natural goalscorer to pair with the wonderful Robin Van Persie.