Not Jack but the Ox should hit the Road

30 hours to go till the deadline of transfer deadline day and it looks like Arsenal have done very good business this summer. We did not spend a silly £90m on Pogba but got Holding, Xhaka, Mustafi and Perez instead which will turn out to be far better business for us on the field, which matters most to us of course. Okay the new German defender still needs to be confirmed but this should be a formality.

If you look at the last twelve months or so, Arsenal have added quality players in all four lines: GK Cech, Defenders Holding and Mustafi, Midfielders Elneny and Xhaka and attacker Perez.  We kept all our quality players until now and let’s hope we will survive the next 30 hours as well, and then we have a very, very strong squad (see also the previous post).

It is now time to allow a few players to go on loan or to be sold, as we need to make space for some very promising youngsters and create plenty of playing time for the new arrivals.

It appears that Arsenal are willing to loan out Jack Wilshere but I hope we will keep him. Jack needs to play of course, but he also needs to look after himself and at Arsenal he can get playing time without too much demand on him (as in having to play every game). I also want him to work hard and compete with the likes of Xhaka, Ozil and Cazorla to get into the team. He has the talent to make it. On the other hand, if he lands at a club with a good manager who will use him wisely he could also prosper.

It looks like Chambers will go out on loan and I reckon that is a wise decision. Any youngster who gets bought by Arsenal should go out and learn to stand on their own feet via a loan spell. I wished we had done the same with the likes of Theo and Ox. Chambers is a good player but he has not made enough impression for Wenger to believe he is ready to be a regular starter at Arsenal. So go out there Calum and work your socks off. And from what I saw of Middlesbrough, they try to play good football which should suit him.

The rumour that Gnabry could be sold to Bayern is not very good news. I don’t know the exact contract situation of Gnabry and the club might not have much choice in the matter, but I hope the German is not leaving because he does not feel he will get a proper opportunity to shine at Arsenal.

And that brings me to the Ox. It feels like he has been forever at Arsenal, yet he is still young and keeps threatening to break through. Alex has his moments and we are all in awe of his speed and close ball control, but when it comes to delivering the goods in terms of goals and assists it is just not happening for him. Once again this season, he has periods in which he plays well and is part of the team, but sooner or later  he will drop off and become invisible. He was easily our weakest player against Watford on Saturday and this has been the case too many times.

I have said for years here on Bergkampesque that the Ox should go on a season long loan and establish himself outside Arsenal, where he simply has been pampered and protected too much. He will then come back with confidence and will have learned to turn his talents into hard, bankable outcomes.

I now feel it may be too late and would not be surprised if he gets sold in the next 30 hours. With Perez, Alexis, Theo and Ramsey – the Welshman is not a natural winger but he offers extra defensive cover and a very decent goal threat when played out wide – we have four quality players to operate on the wings: and if they are all fit and in form, they should normally play. But as it stands, we also have youngsters like Iwobi, Gnabry and Willock knocking very hard on the door. I feel the Ox has had his chance and we need to create space in the team, so it is out on loan or cashing in time. Time to hit the road, not so much for Jack but definitely for the Ox.

By TotalArsenal

Joel Campbell’s Progress Evidence that Loan Deals Work… The Ox Next!

Joel Campbell comes from a tiny nation, Costa Rica, with just 4.5m inhabitants. He is only 23 yet he already played at Lorient in France (25 League games), Real Betis (28) and Villarreal (14) in Spain, and in the city of the Gods, Athens (32). This fabulous prospect has moved to the other side of the world to proof himself with only his talents to fall back on. I don’t know what you did between 18 and 23, but Joel beats me hands down in terms of going out in the world and make it happen.

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The Ox, at 22 years of age, is also a great talent who was bought at a young age and with a lot of money from Southampton. He has stayed with Arsenal ever since and is just five games away from a PL century. He had a privileged and protected football-upbringing at Arsenal, which is in quite a big contrast to our Costa Rican Gunner.

Regulars on Bergkampesque probably know where I am going with this. I read recently that grit and resilience are easily as important as talent and work rate when it comes to becoming successful. Of course this is nothing new, but it rung a bell when thinking of the current form and progress of Joel and Alex.

As far as I can judge, both players  share the attributes of talent and desire: they are great guys who love football and want to get to the very top. But it is Joel who is making the rapid progress at the moment and who appears to be able to overcome small setbacks better. He is also a lot more effective this season, as in producing goals and assists, than the Ox.

Some will say the Ox is still young, but 95 PL games is a good tally and it is about time we let him go on loan and give him the opportunity to make real progress. But enough said about AOC; let’s talk about JC.

For me, next to Hector Vector’s development, seeing Joel really take to the stage in the last few months has been one of the nicest Arsenal surprises this season. I love this guy: he works his socks off, is not afraid of physical contact (any more), has a great motor, good first touch, fine spacial awareness, is a team player, can assist and score in equal measures. Joel is the sort of player I enjoy just focusing on in a game; you will notice there are more dimensions to his game once you do so.

There is class about him.

I can watch his goal against Sunderland yesterday, time and again. Firstly, there is the awareness of where the space is and him moving into it; Secondly, there is the fine anticipation of the bounce of the ball and him opting to pass it into the corner of the goal rather than blasting it. That for me was class; and then he decided to celebrate in front of the Sunderland away supporters… 🙂

Of course it is still early days, but I reckon we are now starting to reap Arsenal’s AND Joel’s investment in his career. He has made big sacrifices to be where he is today and things will hopefully continue to improve for him. I reckon we will get a lot of joy out of Joel for years to come…

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And let me whisper this one more time: the sooner the Ox goes on loan the better for him and Arsenal. Hit the Road Ox and come back when you are a footballer in full.

By TotalArsenal