Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made his first start of the season away against Newcastle on Saturday and effectively won us the game by his shot being deflected into goal.
The winger has looked incredibly sharp when he’s been called into action this season and, speaking after the match against the Magpies, he made it clear that he only intends to get better.
“It’s not an easy place to come to,” the Ox said. “Newcastle are a very good side, especially at home with the fans, so it’s a tough place to come to.
“Sometimes it’s almost harder to play against 10 men, because you have to keep the same focus as when it’s 11 against 11 and try to make sure you play the same way. Sometimes that can be hard and that’s what we found today.”
The pacey youngster continued, “I felt a little bit off the pace. The last time I started a match was three weeks ago and you can lose a bit of match fitness in that time.
“That’s what I felt like today. In spells I showed what I can do but overall I think I was a little bit off the pace.
“But that comes with a run in the team and playing more matches so I’m sure I’ll be able to get back to my full match fitness in no time at all.”
However, to most, the Ox looked anything but off the pace. Throughout the game he kept the pressure on, chased every ball and ran at the Newcastle defence. If this was ‘off the pace‘, imagine what’s to come.
The 22-year-old seems totally focussed this season. Last year, he only featured in 37 matches due to a groin strain and hamstring injury and, even when fit, he found it hard to slot into the team. Now, he’s showing Arsene Wenger exactly why he needs to be starting and taking up a spot in the first 11.