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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Scores Hattrick v Iceland U21


Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has continued his superb start to the 2011/12, scoring a hattrick in the England Under 21's 3-0 victory away at Iceland in their 2013 Under 21 Championships qualifier. Chamberlain has now scored 3 goals and made 5 assists plus winning a penalty for the Under 21s in 3 games, and has scored two goals in two starts for Arsenal, against Shrewsbury and Olympiacos. A start in the Premier League must surely be close for the 18 year old, as both Gervinho and Andrey Arshavin have failed to impress thus far.

Chamberlain's first two goals for Arsenal have both been great strikes, and his pace and trickery, while impressive, hasn't yet directly lead to a goal. That was different today; his first was scored after he was played in around the half-way line and burnt past the Icelandic defence before tucking away into the bottom corner, while his second showed off impressive instincts, tapping in after a saved shot. It was his third that was the best though; beating two players before getting to the byline and then chipping, and wrong-footing, the keeper. It may have been a lucky goal, but he's done it before for Southampton, and, in the form that Chamberlain is in, it wouldn't be surprising to see him try from an impossible angle.

The demand to see Oxlade-Chamberlain will only increase after this performance. He has the pace that Theo Walcott has, and is a better crosser of the ball. But with Walcott in good form so far, with 3 goals and 2 assists, his place may be safe for the time being. Instead, the place of Gervinho might be under threat, but, perhaps more intriguingly, Chamberlain could be used in the middle. Zonal Marking discussed the concept of a central winger here, and more here, coming to the conclusion that players need to be able to move laterally to find space.

Arsene Wenger believes that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is, in the future, more of a central player. He did play there on occasion for Southampton, and has enough passing ability and trickery to play in that role. Crucially, though, he can switch out wide, an area where he'll find it easier to avoid pressure, and can create 2 v 1 and even 3 v 1 opportunities.

Even if it's not in the middle, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should be getting playing time soon. As evidenced by his play so far, he's certainly a player who can make a difference, a fantatista, which is something Arsenal have lacked so far in this campaign.