Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made a return to the Arsenal squad for the final game of the season after being sidelined since the FA Cup quarter final at Old Trafford.
Picking up the first muscle strain of his career, it was a recurrence of the groin issue that has plagued him all season that actually kept him sidelined for eight weeks with real fears that he would miss yet another FA Cup final.
His return was, therefore, a delight for everyone and in an interview with the Times [£], the Ox has been talking about how it felt to miss last year’s showpiece and how he dealt with this latest injury. He also explained how he ended up having to take painkillers in order to play.
“It is important I don’t get picked through sentiment or feeling sorry. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about missing it.
“It hurt and it was tough after playing in pretty much all the rounds.
“There weren’t tears, because I am realistic, honest with myself and that is how it goes. When the final whistle went I was over the moon.
“That is something you have to be proud of when you are a sprint athlete [that the hamstring tear was the first muscle problem of his career].
“My body wasn’t working like clockwork and that can catch up with you and it did. I have been working hard all season with the medical team to try to keep it under control and it got to a point that it seemed to get a little bit worse and I had to take some time out. That is frustrating.
“The old pros will tell you that you go through games and need a pain-killer.
“It is never ideal and everyone knows it. The nature of the beast, wanting to play every week and the demands and pressure to play, is just as important.
“Sometimes you have to do that to get yourself on the pitch. The more I was playing, the more I was reliant on those tablets and that is not ideal. Sometimes I don’t know when to stop. I always just want to play.
“The club never put pressure [on me] as it will do damage, and if it is no good for you in the long run, it is not good for the club.
“It is such a weight off my shoulders as the groins have been a problem for so long that it was almost like I was getting used to being in pain on the pitch.
“I feel like I am free. Not relying on something to play makes you feel like a kid again. Maybe this break will help me next season.”
The Ox certainly brings something different to this Arsenal side and his direct running and ability to beat a man was certainly missed, especially during the games when Arsenal struck a blank – it always felt that someone like him could have been the difference.
Now he’s back, let’s hope that he is against Villa.