Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain failed to put himself in the shop window during England's win over Lithuania
The Arsenal manager has also long said that Oxlade-Chamberlain's best position is in the centre of midfield – where the 23-year-old has in fact always wanted to play, instead of being shunted about in various wide roles.
Today at Wembley Oxlade-Chamberlain, in his first start for 17 months for England, had the chance to show what he could do in that central midfield role for his country. He missed his moment.
For the last two months at Arsenal, Oxlade-Chamberlain had been one of the few bright spots as the club has gone into meltdown, playing in that central, deep-lying role where his ability to run with the ball, his intelligence and his calm passing have, occasionally, offered hope.
England's player ratings against Lithuania
Sun, March 26, 2017
Express Sport brings you England's player ratings from their World Cup qualifier against Lithuania
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GK: Joe Hart – 7
Sources close to the former Southampton player indicated that Oxlade-Chamberlain wants more regular club football to cement a place in the England set up, so he is unlikely to sign a new deal even if it is offered.
But maybe a move away from Arsenal is exactly what the Portsmouth-born player needs to freshen up his game on this evidence.
This was in effect another chance for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has had this belated run in the Arsenal team because of injuries, to put himself in the shop window. But also, alongside Tottenham's Eric Dier, begin to pin down a place in England coach Gareth Southgate's midfield.
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With Dier, who had played well against Germany in the 1-0 defeat in Dortmund on Wednesday night, the more naturally defensive player, Oxlade-Chamberlain was the man with the license to forage forward. But the problem with the former Southampton player is that too often games seem to pass him by. This was another one.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was given a central midfield role but he failed to live up to the billing
Too often Oxlade-Chamberlain – on his 25th appearance for England – was caught out of position, his passing was wayward and he was beaten far too easily to the ball, leading to a glorious chance for Lithuania to cancel out Jermain Defoe's opening goal, when Vykintas Slivka saw his header cleared off the line just before half-time.
The candidates for the deep lying holding role, apart from Oxlade-Chamberlain and Dier, are the likes of Jordan Henderson – on form and when fit surely the best option, Leicester's Danny Drinkwater, currently out of favour and West Brom's Jake Livermore, unimpressive in Dortmund. It is not an area where Southgate is bursting with great alternatives.
A curling shot from the edge of the area which forced a good save out of Lithuanian goalkeeper Ernestas Setkus, indicated a marginal improvement after the break from the Arsenal man.
Oxlade-Chamberlain's problem for both club and country has been that there are too many games where he seems to fade from view. This was another. This should have been a game where, if he is to be realistically compared to a player like Gerrard, he runs the match. The Arsenal man markedly failed to do that.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain shoots at goal during England's 2-0 win over Lithuania
He was, to be fair, not alone, as England struggled to break down Lithuania's two banks of four players permanently stationed behind the ball by coach Edgaras Jankauskas. But it was Dier making the more dangerous, forcing runs forward from deep as this limp match progressed, not Oxlade-Chamberlain.
And it was Adam Lallana, admittedly playing further forward who, with a delightful flick, set up substitute Jamie Vardy's second goal.
The Liverpool man was the player affecting the game. Former Gunners hero Ian Wright, watching the game, said he wanted to see more urgency, more sharpness from Oxlade-Chamberlain if he is to be on the plane to Russia for the World Cup finals next summer, Oxlade-Chamberlain has plenty to do.
For the sake of his career – and his England prospects – maybe a move away from the Emirates Stadium this summer could be the key.