Arsene Wenger has praised Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s development as he feels the Englishman is maturing well into a more responsible figure on the pitch.
The 19-year-old has injected new life into Arsenal’s attack when making substitute appearances recently, especially against Norwich City on the weekend when he set up Olivier Giroud’s winner, and made a nuisance of himself against Everton bursting through on goal and almost teeing up Giroud once more.
His return to form has pleased his boss and led the Frenchman to reiterate that he will play an important role in the season run in.
Wenger said at his latest pre-match press conference:
Alex is a huge talent. I believe that he has moved forward a lot this season and you see it now when he comes on he has a different stature.
He takes responsibility when he comes on now, which was not always the case. He has made huge improvements. He’s a very young boy. He has a part to play in our final run-in of course.
I think since January he has grown up a lot. You see that now, there is more purpose in his game, the final ball is much better and his concentration is at a higher level.
That’s what you learn when you come from [being] a young talented boy to a real performer. I think this season has been very useful for him.
After bursting onto the scene last season much has been expected of the former Southampton winger, and after a bright beginning to the season the youngster fizzled out prior to the start of the new year. But the Englishman has been more prominent recently, especially while on duty with England, and his form of late has been brilliant. Part of his recent improvement will be down to his central role when introduced, allowing him to attack directly and use his pace to break down the central defenders. The shift centrally has been earmarked as his potential future position and he is certainly making a case for himself especially when the Gunners are on the back foot.
He will look to do the same this weekend against Fulham, however once again will most likely be introduced from the bench with Wenger having an abundance of attacking midfield options.