It was not a surprise to witness the electric interventions, the muscular pace and intelligent foraging. These are the hallmarks we have come to associate with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
What shocked was the revelation he was bringing up the ton for Arsenal at just 21-years-old. The achievement is entirely commensurate with his talent but not perhaps with one of such tender years.
Arsène Wenger marked the landmark with a eulogy in the programme. It was an expression of fatherly devotion as much as coaching appreciation, those rapier feet being a symbol of the club’s cultivation of young players, even if they don’t all start at the club.
It was Wenger’s contention that the gradual exposure to the first team brought him on quicker, thanks to the influence of older players. These days Oxlade-Chamberlain is the one bringing his game to bear on the surroundings, if not quite in the lethal manner he might in the next phase of his career.
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The deft touch under pressure and pass to release Alexis Sanchez down the right early in the game was a demonstration of a player at ease with himself and at one with his team-mates. He followed that with a raking, cross-field ball with his right boot again to release Sanchez, this time down the left. David Beckham did not hit many better.
Bless him, the lad was not even aware of the significance of the game for him. At his age you are not counting, just living every second. His own observations when told of his achievement revealed an insightful mind, keen to absorb every experience.
His reflections on three years as a Champions League player were particularly astute, drawing out the subtle differences in tempo and style that make the European stage such a challenge for a young lad finding his feet.
He scored on his debut against Olympiakos in 2011 but did not have the wider impact he might have had after finding the net inside 10 minutes. Last night Arsenal again scored early and once again it did not lead to dominance, but there was no diminution in output from the Ox.
His speed off the mark is arresting, as is his intuitive understanding of space and timing. A split second is all he needs to initiate danger, to conjure promise from the mundane.
In the defeat at Swansea before the international break he was the one Arsenal player to emerge with anything like credit. He was the tormentor-in-chief against Manchester United on Saturday, his ability to work across the frontline in tandem with Sanchez causing panic at every turn.
Only the goals are missing. Just 11 in total for Arsenal is an anomaly he must correct if he is to develop into the kind of figure operating on the opposite wing.
Sanchez showed in one swing of that chilling right boot the quality required to be ranked among the very best. It was a fine ball from Santi Cazorla, but there was still plenty to do. Sanchez had scored the goal in his head before he took the touch to set up the shot.
Moments earlier, Oxlade-Chamberlain found himself in a similar position attacking the box. He did brilliantly to bring the ball under his control and appeared to have made the right choice in lifting his right-foot shot over the keeper.
It would have been some goal had it slipped under the bar instead of slapping against the frame. By such fractions is greatness carved. Sanchez you fancy would score from anywhere. The Ox does not expect to score and therefore does not.
He flashed another shot over the bar late in the game. It came off his boot like a missile but did not trouble the keeper. Something to work on in the next 100 games.
The visiting coach Jürgen Klopp must have walked under a ladder during the trip to London. Hitherto Borussia Dortmund had managed a 100 per cent record in the Champions League despite the desperate start they have made in the Bundesliga, losing seven times in 12 matches.
A draw would have taken them through as group leaders. They remain favourites to qualify in pole position but Arsenal are at least poised to mop up in the final fixtures.
On the plus side for Klopp you have to admire a coach who takes his team to the park to train on the day of the match, albeit that open space being one of the finest inner-city recreational grounds in the world, Regent’s Park.
Dortmund’s fans seemed to be just as engaged in the London experience, a colourful, vibrant and percussive presence on their way to the ground under police escort and in the stadium, the now familiar wall of yellow scarves greeting their idols as they took to the pitch.
There was no retreat either when the goals went in. Indeed, Yaya Sanogo’s early strike was the signal for chanting and drum-beating in the yellow quarter of the stadium, a stirring contribution on a losing night.
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