Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says he didn’t leave Arsenal to win things, but rather to play in his favourite positions more regularly.
Oxlade-Chamberlain left Arsenal for Liverpool in 2017, and he couldn’t have timed a move much better. Liverpool have since come into their own, winning the Champions League and closing in on the Premier League title.
It’s not as though Oxlade-Chamberlain can take much personal credit for that, either. They won the Champions League without him playing a single minute, after all. He just picked the perfect time to join their squad.
However, the 26-year-old insists he didn’t leave for the trophies. It was all about where Arsenal were using him on the pitch.
“I wouldn’t say I wanted to leave Arsenal because I didn’t believe we could win,” Oxlade-Chamberlain said. “I just didn’t believe I was going to be able to play where I wanted to play and that was it.
“Winning the Champions League was obviously a dream come true and a massive bonus but I didn’t feel like ‘Ah, I told you so’ [at Arsenal].
“When I had to make the decision to leave, it was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make and to be honest there was a part of me that didn’t know if it was the right thing.
“I feel a lot of my best performances for Arsenal came in midfield but I never played consistently in that position.”
It’s certainly true that the former winger plays more in midfield now. He still makes appearances on the left almost as often, but not at wing-back like in his final months at Arsenal.
Was Oxlade-Chamberlain really better in midfield for Arsenal?
In defence of Arsene Wenger, Ox actually played well at wing-back. Even now, I’d say I saw some of his best performances in the position, notably against Manchester City and Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final and final.
By comparison, I can remember some pretty terrible games he played for Arsenal in midfield. The 5-1 against Bayern Munich at home in 2016/17, the 3-1 away defeats to Chelsea and West Brom, the mistake that killed the Monaco tie in 2014/15.
The only really positive midfield performance I can remember in his last three seasons was in the 5-0 FA Cup win over Southampton. That was undoubtedly a strong showing from him, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Jeff Reine-Adelaide.
Funnily enough, all three struggles to get further central appearances after that.
That’s not to say Oxlade-Chamberlain hasn’t had good performances in the middle for Liverpool. He has. I just think those positive showings have him rewriting his Arsenal history a bit.