Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had joked about playing at left back this season, but found himself playing there in the biggest game of the season.
• Chamberlain played left wing-back against Chelsea
• He had previous played right wing-back and right back this season
• Believes team can replicate final performance all season
“It was a little bit of a shock,” he said to Arsenal.com. “Obviously it’s not somewhere I’ve played before. I think I said a few weeks ago that I might play left back soon. I was only joking so for it to happen in the final was a bit of surprise.”
Chamberlain is one of the most versatile players at the club, being able to play on both flanks and in the centre of midfield. This season, he has also turned out at right back whenever the team was chasing a game.
After the change of formation against Middlesbrough in April, Chamberlain found himself at right wing-back ahead of Hector Bellerin. Then, thanks to injuries and suspensions, he had to fill in at left wing-back in the FA Cup final.
“I’ve played left wing before and it’s something that I thought I could cope with and I could do, and obviously it was different and was a different task being on that side of the pitch but ultimately I was happy to do the job for the team,” he added.
Chamberlain has been frustrated by his inability to get a consistent run of games together during his time at the club. Wing back may not be his most preferred position, but he has seen more game time after the switch and has performed well there.
Against Manchester City in the semi-final, he was a constant threat with his pace and delivery. He set-up Nacho Monreal’s equaliser with a delightful cross.
Against Chelsea in the final, he was more conservative, but handled the threat of Victor Moses well.
He played a large role in Arsenal’s FA Cup success and he believes those performances can be repeated.
“We think we can do it for the whole season but we need to improve and we know that. Performances like Saturday, after the semi-final, in a big game against Chelsea shows what we can do.
“It has given a bit of momentum for the club and for the fans to go into next season full of hope and I hope we can have a better year next year.”
With any luck, it’ll be a better year next year with Oxlade-Chamberlain still involved.