Starting a 16-year-old against Arsenal, with the likes of Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey in the starting line-up, is considered too much of a risk by many Premier League clubs and questions are asked amongst fans and pundits.
However, Hammers boss Slaven Bilic had no hesitation in including the defensively minded wonderkid in his starting XI for the opening day of the season clash at the Emirates Stadium, and his faith in the youngster was rewarded.
Oxford, who was released by London rivals Tottenham Hotspur when he was barely a teenager, had Ozil in his back pocket for most of the match and proved many doubters that he can mix it with the best, despite his age.
However, Oxford was brought back down to earth in his full home Premier League debut against Leicester City on Saturday. The youngster surprisingly had a more difficult game, and subsequently was brought off at half time in the 2-1 loss at the hands of the Foxes, being replaced by summer recruit Pedro Obiang.
The Hammers cannot afford that type of inconsistency from a promising player, so should Oxford temporarily learn his trade elsewhere?
— WestHamWorld.co.uk (@WestHamWorld) August 19, 2015
You have to bear in mind that Oxford almost left the East Londoners just last year. The likes of the Gunners, Manchester United and Chelsea were looking to poach the youngster away when he was performing brilliantly for the Development Squad. The England U18 captain relieved most people associated with the E13 club by signing a new long term contract in the third year of the Sam Allardyce era.
Former Besiktas chief Bilic has always stated since arriving in the summer that he prides himself of bringing through players from ‘The Academy of Football’ and is aiming to do that this season.
Last Saturday’s match against Claudio Ranieri’s new team was a steep learning curve for Oxford and he will only get better with the amount of game time he gets. Obiang came on and did a more effective job in the holding position, and as a result, the Hammers won the second half 1-0 thanks to French playmaker Dimitri Payet.
Also, many clubs in the Premier League and in Europe would die to have a player of Oxford’s calibre and quality, who is being dubbed the ‘next Rio Ferdinand’.
With the transfer window still open for another two weeks, it’s very likely that Chairman David Gold and David Sullivan would still like to conclude a few more deals before it slams shut. With links to the likes of Alex Song and Tom Huddlestone still surfacing around West Ham, Oxford’s place in the starting XI becomes threatened.
If a holding player arrives then the Hammers cannot keep a player of Oxford’s quality out of the side. Get him some experience in the Championship until at least Christmas, and he could soon be twice the player we saw at Arsenal.
What do you think? Would it better to send Oxford out on loan to further his potential this season? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.