After a disappointing start to this calender year, Arsenal were finally able to secure their first Premier League win of 2012, picking up 3 vital points against Blackburn Rovers in a 7-1 demolition at The Emirates.
Once again, Robin van Persie showed just how important he is to this Arsenal side – scoring three and making two others – during a numbingly-cold afternoon in North London.
Although I’m not taking anything away from our captain, he wasn’t the only one who was able to grab the headlines. Despite van Persie’s hat-trick, the man who everyone’s now looking out for is our 18-year-old winger from Hampshire.
Along with our Dutch skipper, it was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who was the star of the match, giving our side exactly what we’ve been missing for the majority of the season.
Every time I watch The Ox, I can’t help but think that he’s about to do something spectacular. Now I’m definitely not one who wants to pressurize young talent – especially someone who’s still only 18 – but it’s a situation that’s hard to avoid when they’re playing so well.
The most refreshing thing about The Ox is that clearly, he has a footballing brain. He knows what to do and he knows when to do it. Certainly, he’s one of the most exciting talents in the world right now. Arsene’s done it again, eh?
Apart from the signing of Theo Walcott in 2006, as well as the rise of Cesc Fabregas, and more recently Jack Wilshere, I can’t re-call being this excited about a young Arsenal talent.
Game by game, week by week, it’s going to be an absolute delight to watch Alex play. But whilst also having big names alongside him as direct competition, how often will we see him play?
Fortunately for Theo, given the current circumstances, his place in the first team is far from under threat. With Gervinho still away at the African Cup of Nations, Walcott’s only real competition is Andrei Arshavin. And as much as it pains me to say it, I don’t think anyone expects the little Russian to give Theo any significant problems right now.
When Gervinho returns, it’s going to be interesting, in regards to Wenger’s team selection. Should he stick with Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain on the wings, or does Gervinho deserve an immediate return to the starting line-up? And if the Ivorian does return straight away, which one of our English wingers should be dropped?
At this moment in time – and I’m sorry to say this to you Theo – but we simply can’t afford to drop Oxlade-Chamberlain right now. Even with his age and lack of experience in mind, he’s the best winger we have at the moment.
MIKE HARVEY | Follow me on Twitter @My_Karvey