We swear, we'll get through these before the new season starts. But at least we remembered the poll this time!
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's season was a swift comedown from his elevation to High Priest of All Football Who Should Start All The Games All The Time Ever in January 2012. He was in really poor form until December and looked out of shape at the season's start, then picked up as it went on. Despite Theo Walcott's contract saga allowing him some starts in the early season, he failed to do anything notable with them before picking up an injury that wiped him out for most of November. In December, his performances were important in our post-Swansea recovery of four straight wins, but after the Theo up front tactic went where it was inevitably going (read: nowhere), he was the one to lose his place upon Olivier Giroud's reinstatement to the side.
He did not quite regain the spark of his first year until the very end of the season (namely the Norwich game) and even then it was not regular. He impressed in patches but it was an uninspiring and unremarkable season in all. It's no great cause for concern: inconsistency is typical of young players and he didn't really get the chance to put a run of games together (not that he deserved one) and build any solid momentum, the December period aside. A weirdly indifferent season, looking back, but an understandable one. His season should hopefully act as a reminder of the fallibility of prematurely hailing barely-tested youth as the finished article. As itself it was an okay year, only coming off the last one was it disappointing.
An honourable mention of his excellent performance in the holding role for 75 minutes of the Newcastle game, though.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain maybe be, at least in my mind, guilty only of not living up to the "OX OX OX OX" that runs through my mind when he gets ready to come onto the pitch. Ox had the tendency to disappear and not really make much of an impact early this season, which was worrisome a bit, but he's 19.
Most players at 19 are the same way, and as the season went on, he started to wreak more and more havoc. The numbers don't show it, but all in due time. One thing that I'm interested to see is how soon he makes a move towards the center; so far, he hasn't struck me as a playmaker, really, so.
The problem with wanting things is that the things we want aren't necessarily the things that are going to happen. I want Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to be a regular starter, and to dominate for 75-90 minutes the way he dominates for 15-20 sometimes these days. I also want someone to knock on my door, hand me a box, and say "Inside this box is $10 million in cash. It's yours. See ya!" and walk away. The last time someone knocked on my door and gave me a box, it was full of cat food. So as you can clearly see, and as my rigorously sourced and vetted scientific example has proven, wanting things is stupid. I CAN'T RETIRE ON CAT FOOD.
AOC is young, and he's got the attendant young-person qualities of a ton of energy and, sometimes, eight ounces of brain matter to run it. He's wildly inconsistent, and his downside seemed more prevalent than his upside for many portions of the season. That said, I think there is a consistent player in there somewhere; as he gets older, more mature, and more aware of what's going on around him on the pitch, he'll be a whole lot better. Will he grow up to be the dominant force I want him to be? I don't know, but I hope so; 2013-14 will go a long way towards showing us some sort of answer to that question.
After the hype of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's first Arsenal season, including a probably too early call-up to the England side for Euro 2012, it was inevitable the Ox would fail to excite in his second season, short of doing something not many do. The thing about Oxlade-Chamberlain's 2012-13 season is that it wasn't that different from his 11-12 campaign except he wasn't a new toy, and thus didn't have that bias that new toys always have. But despite going through injury frustrations that saw him fail to capitalise on Theo Walcott's benching due to contractitis, Oxlade-Chamberlain will be better for this season. His struggles at the beginning of the season seemed to drive him on in training and to get himself in better shape, to the point where he seemed far more powerful at the end of the season, where he made several crucial appearences: His drive from midfield turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 win against Norwich, and he filled in exceptionally well for Mikel Arteta against Newcastle on the final day of the season.
It's still to be seen where Oxlade-Chamberlain's best position will turn out to be; Arsene Wenger thinks he'll turn up as a central midfielder, but there's something to say for the quality of passing Oxlade-Chamberlain has combined with his speed that could be devastating out wide. Either way, there's still plenty more to come from him, and after turning around disappointing first two thirds of the season, he seems to be on the right path.
Can I just say that he's a kid and had the season that he should have had? He's growing and has improved throughout the season.
I've been pushing for people to call Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain "The OC" for like two years now, and it hasn't caught on yet. I'd like to take this opportunity to let you all know that you've let me down, and I'm disappointed.
As for The OC himself, he had a (probably) expected Sophomore Slump. He didn't get a ton of playing time (though he did get plenty), and he didn't really progress much from the flashes of brilliance that we saw from him last season. But that's okay. He didn't regress, and he appears to have the right attitude about his career to this point. He, along with the rest of our young British contingent, is already one of the faces of this club, and he's handled that status with aplomb. He's willing to be a substitute, and to play however much and wherever he's asked. I still have faith that he will come good, and eventually be a legitimate star for Arsenal. He's got the talent and a good head on his shoulders. He'll be fine.
Seriously, though. The OC. Come on, people.
Maybe it's due to the fact that the new season is just a shy over 30 days away from starting, but I'm struggling like mad to recall anything Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did that made me notice him. He had that one goal in, uh, that one match and then made, um, a couple decent runs? OXTV is pretty hilarious and a great peek into his charasmatic personality. Oh, and he signed that pretty sweet contract extension. But standout positive contributions on the pitch? Erm....
But seriously, he's a great talent and still needing a good polish on his game. He simply, though, did next-to-nothing of note in the 2012/13 season. He rode the bench often, and when he made appearances he looked out-of-place and lacking any sort of cohesiveness with the rest of his teammates. Patience is a virtue and this past season didn't show what we should expect from him going forward.
What is curious is that he's a well-liked player, both by members within the club and fans all over. And I don't think he had any better of a season than Aaron Ramsey had in 2011/12. Yet, I don't see Ox getting the same "OXLADE SUCKS" comments (and much, much worse) that our resident Welshman had to endure.