“The Ox in the Box” – Sunday 2 August 2015

At last, at last. A win for Wenger against his old adversary Mourinho and well deserved it was too. It has taken 14 matches, a sprinkling of draws but no W. Arsenal like Wembley now, 6 wins on the bounce here, a far cry from their European soujourn at the home of English football when they decided Wembley was a better bet than Highbury for entertaining their European guests. They could not buy a win then.

The sun shone on the men in red, tiger like when out of possession, like leopards with their pace when on the break, with a new giraffe in goal giving them much needed height at the back and the match was ultimately decided by their “ox in the box” Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. And what a terrific strike it was, cutting in from the right he twisted and turned and unleashed an unstoppable left footed shot into the far corner, in front of his adoring fans. A goal not dissimilar to one scored from the same spot just 14 months ago by Bobby Zamora, different teams, different circumstances, same score, 1-0.

The “Ox” has been a man waiting to happen, immensely talented but a career so far bedevilled by injury and a lack of clarity from his managers at club and international level as to his best position. Wenger got it right today, wide right, where he can use his electrifying pace, pin point crossing and his ability to cut back onto his left foot with devastating affect. His club colleague and fellow countryman Theo Walcott    signed a new contract this week, reportedly at £140k per week, yet on the pitch he   is a poor man’s Oxlade-Chamberlain. The trick and the challenge for the Ox is to reproduce this form ‘week in, week out’ as the punters like to say, and on a wet Tuesday in Tranmere, well maybe not Tranmere but certainly Turin.

Arsenal certainly played the better football, the one touch of Ozil, Cazorla and Ramsey was mesmerising at times and the marauding full backs Bellerin and Monreal offered an effective outlet out wide.
Chelsea were a little more direct and certainly improved with the addition of Oscar but the lone strikers Remy and then Falcao were disappointing. Ultimately they deserved nothing from this encounter as their creative juices evaporated in the afternoon sun.   
As his players paraded the victory shield, Wenger wandered wondrously around Wembley. Mourinho has taunted him mercilessly in recent years and so this was his day in the sun. Only a few minutes earlier, as the match neared it’s end, the Arsenal supporters joyously crowed “sit down Mourinho” and as Arsene strolled the turf, Jose could only look on, perhaps regretting his words of ‘failure’.

So, at last the monkey is off the Arsenal back, a weight lifted, thanks to their very own ox.

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