Pitchside

Why Oxlade-Chamberlain was Arsenal’s silver lining

Pitchside

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Squawka pick out one positive on a night when Arsenal's Champions League hopes went up in smoke for another season...

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Arsenal have been knocked out of the Champions League by a Pep Guardiola side for the third time after Bayern Munich negotiated their way to a 3-1 aggregate win.

They could have scored another had it not been for Lukasz Fabianski's fantastic late save from Thomas Mueller's late penalty.

Arsenal were penned back throughout much of the game and struggled to build momentum moving forwards which allowed Bayern to assert their intimidating dominance on the ball. The Germans completed almost 600 passes while the Gunners just edged past 200. It was another tough night for Arsenal with only a handful of positives to cling on to as they crashed out of Europe in the last-16.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was one of them, though. The England international has been in fine form recently and managed to carry it into this huge game, showing no fear on the ball and giving Arsenal a boost every time he picked up possession.

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The young Englishman has missed the majority of the season with a knee injury but looks fresh now after returning to action in January. He offered the Gunners an outlet last night as one player who was prepared to pick the ball up and run straight at Bayern Munich.

He went on plenty of runs and completed a staggering 10 take-ons. A fantastic number that gets even better when you take into account that he only attempted 10. To complete that many in a single match is rare but to enjoy a 100% success rate is even rarer.

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Oxlade-Chamberlain started out wide with Santi Cazorla playing next to Mikel Arteta in midfield. However, it was soon evident that the small Spaniard could not handle the constant movement and passing around him so Arsene Wenger swapped him with Oxlade-Chamberlain. He settled into his new position with ease and was quite easily the Gunners' best player in the Allianz Arena.

Arsenal did not see much of the ball but, as you can see from his heat map, Oxlade-Chamberlain got forward a lot and even went on a long, mazy run, beating four Bayern players before being fouled just outside the penalty area.

Due to Bayern's dominance he only completed 20 passes from an attempted 27. His tackling was not his strong point, either, as he failed to win both tackles he contested.

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He did have one shot, too, which Manuel Neuer saved well.

It was a familiar feeling for Arsenal, being knocked out at the same stage of Europe's premier club competition, but Bayern dominated over both legs and, on balance, fully deserved to advance to the quarter-finals.

The positive light for the Gunners, though, was the performance of Oxlade-Chamberlain in the centre of the park. He was superb and looked a lot older than he is, showing fearlessness and composure on the ball to bring it out of play and attempt to build attacks.

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It was hard for him to build momentum but he kept trying and looked like the only player who could take the pressure off the side inside their own half and take the ball forward.

Wenger simply must start Oxlade-Chamberlain in central midfield more often - he genuinely looked at home in the heart of the action alongside seasoned professionals such as Bastian Schweinsteiger.

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