Five Arsenal players who can step up to the plate

Date published: Friday 4th December 2015 2:53

Joel Campbell

Calum Chambers
Can’t usually get on board with someone who has a name so obviously missing a letter. Calum? No. Conor? Nope. Nicolas? Nuh huh. Jak? Are you trying to f*cking wind me up?

Still, we can make an exception for Chambers, who seems like a nice, hard-working boy who came through Southampton’s academy before taking his shot at the big time.

It’s not gone that well since. Chambers has found himself in the worst possible position, the back-up’s back-up in three or four positions at Arsenal.

Now the boy can become man, probably in central midfield rather than at right-back or in central defence. “Calum Chambers has been educated as a central midfielder,” Arsene Wenger said last week. “He has a big stature, good technique, good vision as well. He has played in defensive positions so I think he can develop in the future in a position like defensive midfield.” Let’s see, eh?

 

Mathieu Flamini
When Flamini re-signed for Arsenal in August 2013, he had been without a club for two months having been released by AC Milan. He was 29, and had started 43 Serie A matches in the last four years.

“He can play as a defensive midfielder or provide cover for first-choice full-backs Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs,” Wenger said at the time “As we know, Mathieu is a strong midfielder, but is also comfortable playing in defence too. He is a very good addition to our squad.” It’s fair to say even Wenger didn’t see him starting Premier League games for Arsenal 27 months later.

Still, necessity breeds no invention, and Arsenal must again turn to their old faithful. It’s not melodramatic to suggest that the club’s title chances rest on Flamini’s performances over the next few months.

 

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
It wasn’t difficult to include Oxlade-Chamberlain in our list of surprise disappointments this week. We really want him to be brilliant, but a young midfielder’s reputation has been reduced to fleeting, frustrating displays.

In the absence of Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey’s sojourn on the right wing may be cut short, Wenger preferring to use him in Cazorla’s central role. It might not be the perfect fit, but Oxlade-Chamberlain should at least be encouraged. He now has a chance to start on the right.

‘More than four years after joining Arsenal, it still feels like we’re waiting for the breakthrough moment,’ we wrote in October. There is no better time to impress.

 

Joel Campbell
Stat attack: Of the 21 players used by Arsenal in the Premier League this season, only seven have been at the club longer than Campbell. After loan spells and work permit frustrations, it’s about time he started justifying the faith.

With Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez injured and Theo Walcott presumably still intent on being a central striker, Campbell can expect his playing time to increase. Having finally scored his first Premier League goal against Swansea in October, Arsenal’s only injury-free outfield player of 2015 will want more of the same.

The bad news: Campbell has scored three goals for club and country since the 2014 World Cup. He’s a bloody forward.

 

Jeff Reine-Adelaide
Until now, the name Geoff/Jeff was reserved for bus drivers, bearded next door neighbours and that guy your Mum went out with a few times who weirdly kept asking how PE and swimming was going at school but showed no interest in any other subjects.

No longer. Reine-Adelaide (or the Queen of Adelaide, to give him his French title) is considered Arsenal’s Next Big Thing. He made an impact in the Emirates Cup against Wolfsburg in August, prompting Wenger to get very excited indeed.

“Reine-Adelaide is something special you know,” the manager said. “He is a great talent and when he came on you could see that – 17 years old let’s not forget that. In fact I don’t remember how I played at 17 but I didn’t play like that!” Agreed, Arsene.

Signed from Lens in May, Reine-Adelaide is yet to play a single Premier League minute for Arsenal. He’ll stay on the bench for now, but must surely be considered as a late substitute to change a dwindling game?

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