Arsenal was always backed up against the wall in facing Barcelona, but the job got a big tougher with the premature exit of the workhorse, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Leave it to Arsenal to finally get healthy and then, in arguably the biggest game of the season, suffer an injury blow, and to who else but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain?
This was supposed to be the Ox’s year. Injuries had always intervened thus far into his career and interrupted any sort of form he had ever hoped to find. This year started with extreme optimism for the Ox, as he netted against Chelsea in the Community Shield to win the match, but he was peculiarly dropped and lost all semblance of confidence.
In the wake of being dropped, Joel Campbell rose to form and proved to be an important commodity on this Arsenal team. However, the Ox rose up and reclaimed the role that had been reserved for him. And he held it well – for two games at least.
The Ox was a bit of a wild card in his short time against Barcelona. He was a tremendous workhorse and showed amazing speed and defensive ability, but as always he was a bit loose on the ball, giving it away with heavy touches an errant passes. Not to mention the fact that he missed a fantastic opportunity to put Arsenal up.
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Then, in a wide open break, the Ox collided at full speed with Javier Mascherano. Upon seeing the replay, it was clear that the Ox’s knee took the worst part of the collision. He limped around for the rest of the first half before having to be taken off five minutes into the second half.
Injuries are always going to find a way into Arsenal plans. It is a shame to see the Ox unable to carry on. We hope that it is just a knock, or even a precautionary measure, and nothing more.
Arsenal have a mess of fixtures coming up over the next few weeks and it will be a devastating blow if the Ox is forced to miss them. Even with the return of Welbeck and Alexis, Arsenal need options and they are extremely reliant on just about everyone.