Oxlade-Chamberlain comes good as Arsenal show their depth
England winger's two goals give manager a 'nudge' and see Gunners cruise past Reading in EFL Cup
Arsenal 2 Reading 0
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain inspired Arsenal to a comfortable victory over Reading, scoring twice to book them a place in the last eight of the EFL Cup.
The England winger's goals saw the Gunners extend their unbeaten run to 14 games.
His performance also served as a timely reminder of his abilities.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has struggled to force his way into Arsene Wenger's plans so far this season yet has already scored five goals, more than he has previously managed in an entire campaign for the Gunners.
"He has completed 90 minutes on just two occasions this season, but staked his claim for a bigger role with the standout performance in a much-changed Arsenal team," says the BBC.
Oxlade-Chamberlain's display was "another nudge" for his manager, says The Guardian, and Wenger must now decide if the player deserves a place in the first team, which is currently purring.
"Happily for Wenger, it appears that he and Theo Walcott are inspiring each other to greater heights on the right flank," adds the paper. "Walcott has started the season in fine form – and the Frenchman seemed to suggest that, at 23, Oxlade-Chamberlain was coming of age."
It is about time he blossomed, argues The Times. "Unfortunate injuries and indifferent form have blotted his time at Arsenal," it says, adding the winger has never started more than 17 league matches in a season since signing from Southampton in 2011.
"Oxlade-Chamberlain's fine start is timely given that his contract expires at the end of next season and a decision needs to be made on his future. He rejected a chance to leave when Arsenal were willing to sell him in the summer, but he will need plenty more similar displays - and against far better opposition - to persuade all the supporters of his worth."
Aside from the performance of Oxlade-Chamberlain, there were other positives for the Gunners - Olivier Giroud made a second-half appearance after recovering from a toe injury.
In previous seasons Arsenal have fielded hugely inexperienced teams in the league cup, but Wenger's second string side against Reading not only included Oxlade-Chamberlain and Giroud, but also fellow England internationals Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson, who was playing his first match for the Gunners for almost two-and-a-half years. Alex Iwobi and Mohamed Elneny also featured.
Wenger "believes that his wider squad is now close to complete and, in making nine changes here from Saturday's goalless draw against Middlesbrough, he was still able to select a team of quality", says the Daily Telegraph.