By Arron Evans

It’s fair to say that the Gunners have had a decent start to the 2016-17 Premier League season, having lost just one of their seven matches and have won in their last five outings.

The likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and even Theo Walcott have stood out spectacularly for the club so far during this campaign, but there are also a few stars who have yet to pull their weight.

Here are just three of those players who really should be doing better.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Many Arsenal fans predict on a perennial basis that it will be Oxlade-Chamberlain’s year to shine but they have so far been disappointed annually by the winger’s shortcomings.

The former England international, now 23, has been tipped to be a superstar ever since he joined Arsenal from Southampton as an 18-year-old prodigy back in 2011.

However, since then he has made 105 league appearances for the club, scoring just eight times and being somewhat of a flop in the process.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has shown glimpses of what he can do though, with his mesmerising runs into the box and his long shots from distance (the goal he scored against Chelsea in the 2015 Community Shield will live long in the memory) but injuries have been his downfall in recent times.

So far this season the England international has played 260 minutes for Arsenal and has enjoyed a decent run of form, even scoring a goal for them, despite it being a controversial one.

The biggest improvement he needs to make is to stay fit and contribute; if he can do that then he will have certainly improved on his past seasons at Arsenal.

Olivier Giroud

Giroud played well for France during Euro 2016, scoring three goals for his nation in a campaign that saw them lose out on home soil to Portugal in the final.

Since then, the former Montpellier targetman has managed to make just three Premier League appearances for Arsenal, struggling with a toe injury and lack of match fitness.

As well as that, he got himself sent off for the club in their Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain, after controversially flooring Marco Verratti.

There’s no doubting what Giroud can do; he’s a physical player who can be an aerial threat for Arsenal, but he can also finish brilliantly with that clinical left foot of his.

The problem for him now will be that he has Alexis Sanchez to compete with up front, as the Chilean has been in fantastic form in recent games.

Giroud also has new boy Lucas Perez as competition, so he will have to be at his best in the club’s training sessions to prove to Arsene Wenger that he is still the man to lead the line for the Gunners.

Once he scores his first goal of the campaign, then that might set him off for the rest of the season and Arsenal fans will be hoping that that happens sooner rather than later.

Gabriel Paulista

Another star hit by injury, Brazilian centre-back Gabriel was hurt in the last few minutes of a pre-season friendly match against Manchester City and is yet to feature in a Premier League match since then.

He did however play in the 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup last month and looked calm and collected.

The signing of Shkodran Mustafi from Valencia over the summer has made it ten times harder for Gabriel to get back into Arsenal’s starting line-up now as the form of the German alongside fellow centre back Laurent Koscielny has been incredible.

In truth, the German’s form and the return of club captain Per Mertesacker in a couple of weeks’ time, as well as the signing of young prospect Rob Holding from Bolton, could spell the end of Gabriel’s time at the club if he does not prove his worth to Wenger over the course of the season.

He has been known to give the ball away needlessly at the back sometimes and has looked shaky on some occasions too.

There’s no doubting that on his day, the Brazilian can be a very good defender, so he would be a welcome back-up choice to many Premier League sides, but is he good enough for the first team at the Emirates Stadium? Time will tell.


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