‘The Ox’ repays Wenger’s beliefComment on this story
London – Arsene Wenger believes Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain proved him right by scoring two goals from midfield in the 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, 20, picked up a knee injury in the 3-1 opening day defeat to Aston Villa and then missed the following five months of the season.
But he returned to Arsenal's starting line-up against Palace and scored both goals from central midfield to send his team back to the top of the Premier League.
With Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere missing through injury, the former Southampton player's return is timely with crucial league fixtures against Liverpool and Manchester United on the horizon.
“I've always believed that he can play wide and central,” said Wenger, the Arsenal manager.
“I've said many times that his future will be central and he has proven me right today by scoring the goals and through the quality of his performance.
“It took him a quite a while to get back because he was injured against Aston Villa on that famous day.
“Overall I'm pleased that he's back to full fitness. You could see that, at some time near the end, that he's still a bit short.”
Wenger added Kim Kallstrom to his midfield ranks on transfer deadline day despite being aware that the Sweden midfielder was injured.
But a scan had failed to show the extent of the injury and that he had a small crack in his vertebrae, which will keep him out of action for around six weeks.
He is on loan from Spartak Moscow and Wenger said that the Russian club will pay Kallstrom's wages for the first six weeks of his stay in north London.
He added: “On normal scans you don't find out but he might play before, he might play later. We identified four to six weeks, they pay the first six weeks wages.
“I would not have signed him if we'd had two or three more days to do something. It was Friday night at five o'clock. It was then or you get nobody.
“If we were going to do it, it was under these conditions so I decided to do it because we might, because of the number of games we now have in February, need the players in March or in April.
“Was I wrong or right? We will see at the end of the season. All of our central midfielders have missed part of the season.”
Palace nullified Arsenal's midfield creativity for the first-half of a match the home side were expected to win comfortably.
But, two minutes into the second half, Oxlade Chamberlain received a lofted a brilliant pass from Santi Cazorla and took a touch before lobbing over Julian Speroni.
He sealed the victory on 72 minutes after exchanging passes with Olivier Giroud and firing in from 15 yards.
Palace manager Tony Pulis believes his team will now start to score more regularly with Glenn Murray coming back from injury and recruiting Tom Ince and Joe Ledley on the final day of the transfer window.
“Tom Ince will score goals from wide, Pulis said. “We're convinced he'll get some goals. Joe Ledley has got a good goal scoring record from midfield so we're actually putting a few more goals back into the team.”
Ince has signed from Blackpool on loan until the end of the season and Pulis is hoping to convince him to stay beyond the summer.
Pulis added: “We hope he helps us stay in the Premier League. We hope then over the next couple of months that we can convince him to stay at the football club.” – Sapa-AFP