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The obvious response to losing to Stoke every year? Ask for a pay rise

OPINION: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain holds all the power over his future at Arsenal. Why?

24 August, 2017 — By Richard Osley

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain when he signed for Arsenal six years ago

WHILE watching Arsenal’s annual defeat at Stoke unfold, you can sort of understand why Alexis Sanchez might be thinking, just slightly, that a transfer wouldn’t be the most deplorable proposition. The guy has generally busted a gut for the team over the last three seasons, carried it at times, rescued it, and always seems to want to score one more goal.

As such he is one of the few players in the league who can genuinely ask for a pay rise – or a transfer – without looking sheepishly at his feet and trying to avoid direct eye contact while he does it.  Presumably this is the standard brace position adopted by some of his team-mates however, when after three or four seasons of middling improvement they walk into the manager’s office and suggest gigantic new pay deals on top of their existing gigantic pay deals.

Take Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who we are told has yet to renew his rapidly-expiring contract, opening up the possibility of him leaving next summer for free; an official catastrophe under the modern metric of judging the success of a football club by how much money it banks. With a bit of leg possibly shown to Chelsea and Liverpool, all of a sudden young Mr Oxlade-Chamberlain holds all the cards in the negotiation, which he presumably knows will, sooner or later, at Arsenal or away from Arsenal, result in a bumper-bumper salary either way.

To be in such a powerful position, a passing observer may reasonably assume that he has over-performed in the last six years, playing the leading role of “vital cog”, winning games, and claiming man-of-the-match awards every other weekend. Given that, let’s reflect on Oxlade-Chamberlain’s golden moments at Arsenal. Run VT. I said ‘run VT’, whatever that means…

…apologies, readers, we seem to have a few technical problems finding that film presently…

And that’s the thing. Oxlade-Chamberlain is not a bad player. He can be a good player, but is Arsene Wenger really going to lose a contract poker game over someone whose flashes of brilliance are, like so many of the Arsenal team, supplied with the consistency of a 31 bus.

When Oxlade-Chamberlain – or Walcott, Giroud etc – knock on the door asking for a quick word about a raise, Wenger’s natural reaction should be to instantly assume he is being filmed for a prank TV show. While the players stand there with their hands out, he should theatrically start checking door hinges and lampshades for secret cameras, and ask if Ant and Dec are behind the curtains ready for the big reveal.

If they want to double their wages, don’t these players need to now be double as good? Certainly, they need to beat Stoke before they ask for more.

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