Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain realizes he has his work cut out when he returns to fitness, but is relishing the competition for places that will only help push him.
The Ox has been missing for the past two months after sustaining a nasty knee injury in the Gunners opening Premier League fixture against Aston Villa and is expected to return at the end of next month.
In his time away Arsenal have bolstered their midfield substantially with the acquisitions of Mesut Ozil and re-signing of Mathieu Flamini providing a whole host of central options for Wenger.
Oxlade-Chamberlain had started to make the transition into a more central role during the latter parts of last season and during pre-season, but it seems his main role will again be from the wing with Arsenal struggling for natural wingers at present.
When he does return Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski will be fit and available too, meaning The Ox will have to work hard to regain form and fitness to get back involved on the pitch.
The 20-year-old told The Sun:
Things can change quickly in football. When you’re at a great club like Arsenal, which has the strength in depth it has, you know you’ve got to raise your levels to stand a chance of playing,.
If you look at us now, if everyone was fit we’d have an unbelievably strong squad and it will be a huge challenge to get back in the team.
But I’m confident in my ability so, when I get the chance, I will have to take it.
Oxlade-Chamberlain had developed into an England regular throughout their qualifying campaign, and has one eye on Brazil as he undergoes his rehabilitation. In his wake Spud winger Andros Townsend has sent a warning to both Chambo and Walcott that there is plenty of competition for places on the wings.
To see that on his [Townsend’s] debut was a real eye-opener and it has given us another dimension. He’s made it hard for every other attacking player in that position to get in, not just me.
Competition has gone up again but you can’t feel frustrated. If you think like that, you start losing focus.
I know what I need to be doing to be in the squad and it’s the same at Arsenal.
While The Ox is dreaming of Brazil his immediate focus is on returning to fitness and aiding Arsenal’s silverware quest. The 20-year-old believes the Gunners have a genuine shot at the title this season and he is hoping they can maintain their top of the table position.
Ever since I’ve been at Arsenal we’ve seen ourselves as title contenders but, most times before, we haven’t got off to such good starts.
The thing is to be up there as quickly as possible and stay there for as long as possible – hopefully right to the end