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Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain delivers reminder of his potential


Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's goal against Bournemouth was expertly taken. Allowing Aaron Ramsey's pass to roll across him, the England international fired a fierce right-foot shot in off the far post, giving 'keeper Artur Boruc no chance.

Coming just 88 seconds after Mesut Ozil's opener, Oxlade-Chamberlain's strike put Arsenal well on course for their first win in four - and a crucial three points in the Premier League title race.

"That's an amazing finish," Thierry Henry - a man who knows a thing or two about scoring impressive goals for Arsenal - said in the Sky Sports studio.

However, the goal also served as a reminder of why Oxlade-Chamberlain remains such a frustrating talent.

That was the 22-year-old's first goal in over 16 months. He hasn't even managed an assist in over 13 months. His output simply doesn't stack up in comparison to his ability.

"The reason why he doesn't start often is that he needs to do that week-in, week-out," said Henry.

Indeed, Sunday was only Oxlade-Chamberlain's eighth start of the season. Nine Arsenal midfielders and attackers have been used more frequently from kick-off.

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BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 07:  Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsenal (L) celebrates with Hector Bellerin and Aaron Ramsey as he scores their second goal
Image: Aaron Ramsey congratulates Oxlade-Chamberlain on his goal

He was an unused substitute in Arsenal's 0-0 draw with Southampton and Henry doesn't believe boss Arsene Wenger sees Oxlade-Chamberlain as a reliable match-winner right now.

"Wenger must have looked at the game [against Southampton], and thought that they couldn't win it, so made sure they were not going to lose," he said. "You have to question whether Oxlade-Chamberlain has done enough to justify Wenger giving him five minutes to change the game.

"How long are we going to say he is a prospect? He has been there four-and-a-half years."

Oxlade-Chamberlain's numbers this season - in comparison to Arsenal's other midfielders and attackers - don't make good reading.  

Oxlade-Chamberlain vs Arsenal's other midfielders & attackers

PL 2015/16 Oxlade-Chamberlain Rank vs Arsenal's other midfielders/attackers
Games played 21 4th
Games started 8 10th
Goals 1 7th
Assists 0 T8th
Big chances created 3 7th
Chances created 16 T6th

Six have scored more goals, seven have made more assists, six have created more clear-cut chances. If Oxlade-Chamberlain is competing for one of three positions behind Olivier Giroud in Arsenal's 4-2-3-1 formation, it's clear Wenger has many other options to consider.

Of course, injuries haven't helped. Groin and hamstring problems caused Oxlade-Chamberlain to miss significant game time in the second half of last season, while a thigh strain led to a short absence in November this term.

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Wenger also revealed in September he believes the player has a lack of confidence.

"His dad said he lacks a bit of self-belief and I can confirm that because he is very critical of himself," said the manager. "That's positive and a sign of top-level sportsmen, but you have to find the right balance of being not happy with what you do without harming the confidence."

While injuries are hard to control, Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness believes Oxlade-Chamberlain should aim to adjust his attitude.

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England and Arsenal team-mates Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain go head-to-head in this 60-second doodle challenge.

Souness says it's time for Oxlade-Chamberlain to seize the opportunity he has at Arsenal, make the most of his talent and force himself into a key role for the team.

"Does he take it seriously enough? He always seems to be the joker," Souness said. "There is a player in there but it is time to stand up and be counted.

"With the quality he has, he should not be happy to sit on the bench and be a bit-part player. He should be banging down the manager's door and asking why he isn't in the side. Is he prepared to do that?

With the quality Oxlade-Chamberlain has, he should not be happy to sit on the bench and be a bit-part player.
Graeme Souness

"I see him laughing a lot, but I'd want him to be more serious, and angry at me as a manager for not playing him, if I was Wenger.

"At 22, it is time to stand up, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and say 'this is my moment. I am going to be a serious player.'"

As Arsenal bid to end their 12-year wait for the Premier League title, Oxlade-Chamberlain has a lot to offer. Now he needs to deliver on a consistent basis. 

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