Arsenal beat Manchester City 2-1 to reach their third FA Cup Final in the last four years. The Gunners were poor in the first half and fortunate to go in 0-0 at the break. However, they came alive in the second half and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the main man.
For the last few weeks, Oxlade-Chamberlain has been one of Arsenal’s best players, delivering when it matters on the pitch. He showed this again in the FA Cup semi-final. There was a determination and desire from Oxlade-Chamberlain to win that match and make sure Arsenal returned to Wembley. He was named Man of the Match after his tremendous performance. Gabriel and Rob Holding also played very well but ultimately the England international made the difference. He provided eight crosses, more than any other Arsenal player. This included the delightful cross for Nacho Monreal’s equaliser.
The 23 year old’s best performances this season have been in central midfield or in the new position of right wing back. Wenger may have stumbled upon these new positions for Oxlade-Chamberlain, but both of them work brilliantly. Oxlade-Chamberlain is free to express himself while controlling the game something that he cannot do as much on the wing. If he is to play as a right wing back on a more regular basis, he will have to improve in the defensive side required from the role but this will come in time.
After the match, Arsenal’s best performer said: “I’m delighted. We set out today to get back to a final. Our league form’s not been good enough and obviously we’re disappointed with how that’s gone and this was something that we could hold onto for the fans. It was important that we got to the final and we’ve given ourselves every opportunity to go and win now. That’s what we wanted to do and I’m delighted for all the boys, the fans and the club.”
The amount of passion, honesty and professionalism in his post-match interview shows how much Oxlade-Chamberlain cares about the fans and the club. He wants Arsenal to succeed and they need to keep hold of players like him.
Interest from elsewhere
Now that he is beginning to fulfill his potential, other clubs are showing interest. Liverpool are apparently interested in Oxlade-Chamberlain but the man himself seems intent on remaining at Arsenal.
It would be a huge blow for Arsenal to lose Oxlade-Chamberlain when he is finally developing into the player that the Gunners thought he would be when they signed him six years ago from Southampton. Arsenal do not have to sell their best players anymore and must do everything in their power to ensure Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains at the club beyond 2018.
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