The Ox suffered a similar knee injury during the season’s opening day defeat to Aston Villa almost five months ago. The game seems a distant memory given our unbelievable turnaround in form since then, but Chamberlain’s absence during this excellent run will hopefully inspire him to up his game for his imminent return. Walcott’s absence for the rest of the season will give The Ox a gilded opportunity to prove his ability and worth to the side. His return will undoubtedly be a blessing, but it is up to the player to fulfill the potential that makes him one of the most exciting young talents in English football.
Chamberlain will be given an extra incentive to perform, as he looks to impress Roy Hodgson and bag himself a spot in the England squad for the World Cup this summer. The 20 year old has already expressed his desire to be on the plane to Brazil and will be itching to show the England manager what he can do. Therefore this will not only be a defining time for The Ox’s Arsenal career but also for his international career.
Returning to Arsenal, when Walcott returned from injury recently I questioned whether he would be an automatic first pick. But, he showed that his pace and much improved finishing add an extra dimension to Arsenal’s play, one that will be desperately missed during his absence. Chamberlain, with his pace, physicality and knack for beating defenders can undoubtedly fill much of the gap left by Walcott. But, they are quite different players. Chamberlain usually plays deeper than Walcott, getting more involved in the build-up and relying on his dribbling ability to create chances for others. Walcott on the other hand is far more adept at running in behind the opposition’s defence and providing a clinical finish.
Both players bring something extra to the team, but this difference is a crucial one for Wenger to consider during this transfer window. Chamberlain does not offer the same goal threat as his compatriot and cannot play as a central striker, unlike Walcott. This makes it even more important for Wenger to bring in a striker in January to ease the burden on Olivier Giroud. The Ox’s return will be a welcome boost for our chances this season, but he is certainly not the answer to all our problems.
My intention isn’t to criticise Chamberlain; far from it in fact. In his time so far with Arsenal, he has shown flashes of brilliance and the ability to light up a game with his pace and trickery. And at just 20 he has the potential to become a key player for Arsenal for many years to come. But his progress has suffered with frequent injuries and the odd dip in form, meaning that he has yet to enjoy a long run as a regular first team player. But now he has been handed an opportunity to step up and establish himself as an important member of the first team, and he could yet play an unexpectedly vital role in Arsenal’s season.
Buster Stonham is a life-long Arsenal fan and football blogger whose prize possession is his 1995-96 Blue Lightning Away kit. He writes regularly for Dream Team Fantasy Football and you can follow him on twitter here @busterstonham