Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can be better than Alexis Sanchez - he just needs to believe it

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can be better than Alexis Sanchez - he just needs to believe it

27/11/2014 at 09:18Updated

For years, English footballers have been in the shadow of their foreign counterparts - technically speaking - but it seems that trend is starting to change with a new crop of youngsters making waves in the Premier League.

Just how far English football has come in the past few years can be seen in the fate of England's Under-21 squad, which reached the final of the 2009 UEFA U21 Championship.

Stuart Pearce's side were absolutely dismantled by a German team which featured the likes of Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels, Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil - all of whom went on to earn World Cup winners' medals this summer, and who all now regularly play in the Champions League for their club sides.

In comparison, only Kieran Gibbs, James Milner and Theo Walcott could be deemed big successes from that England squad of five years ago. The likes of Scott Loach (Rotherham, on loan at Bury) and Martin Cranie (Barnsley) have seen their careers fizzle out in front of their eyes; Fabrice Muamba, of course, was forced to retire due to health problems.

English players have been perceived as less gifted ball players compared to their South American, Spanish, Dutch and German counterparts. Someone like Liverpool's Glen Johnson has looked out of his depth against tricky opponents because he doesn't have the mix of confidence and technical ability that others have.

Final line up: (L-R) James Milner, Fabrice Muamba, Adam Johnson, Scott Loach, Micah Richards, Martin Craine, Kieran Gibbs. Front Row (L-R) Lee Cattermole, Mark Noble, Nedum Onuoha, Theo Walcott.

In recent years, however, it is Arsenal who have seen the foreign core of their team gradually change, and replaced by an English heart beating at the centre: Calum Chambers, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck typify the sort of players and qualities manager Arsene Wenger now wants at the club.

Alex Oxlade Chamberlain

Oxlade-Chamberlain himself is blessed with a unique blend of power, blistering speed and footwork as good as team-mate Alexis Sanchez.

Still only 21 years old, Oxlade-Chamberlain has been unlucky with injuries and played catch-up for most of last season after missing the start of the Premier League campaign.

But he remains one of the team's key players. His career achievements to date are rather impressive when compared to fellow England prospects Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley and Wilshere.

Scoring for England in the Maracana, running the show in the Champions League against AC Milan and Bayern Munich and scoring a match-winning double from centre-midfield against Crystal Palace last year all whetted the appetite with glimpses of what he can do.

In fact, the only thing stopping Oxlade-Chamberlain from becoming one of the world's best players is lack of belief that he can be. It's a quality that English players have previously lacked - they either have too much, or not enough.

Finding the balance so that he can fullfill his potential is key, but if Oxlade-Chamberlain continues to produce dominant performances week in, week out, it won't be long before he becomes the new poster boy of both Arsenal and English football.

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Chris Wheatley

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