Oxlade-Chamberlain learning fast

  • Last Updated: April 30 2013, 16:36 BST

Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has called for everyone to be patient as he looks to "kick on" again next season.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: Experiencing a 'great education'
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: Experiencing a 'great education'

Oxlade-Chamberlain has certainly come a long way in a short time since being signed from Southampton two years ago as a raw talent by Arsene Wenger, whose own future has again been called into doubt following links with a summer switch to big-spending Paris St-Germain.

However, after being called up into the senior England squad for the first time ahead of the 2012 European Championships, where he started the opening game against France in Donetsk, the 19-year-old attack-minded midfielder has seen himself used very much as an impact player for the Gunners this season, with only 11 starts in the Barclays Premier League, and just one since February.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, though, feels time is very much on his side.

"It has been difficult," he said in an interview with the official Arsenal matchday programme.

"There is always pressure, but maybe people forget that I am only 19 and will still be 19 at the start of next season.

"When you have a good first season, especially at 18, people hype you up and really want to see you kick on. They expect you to play lots of games and do really well.

"I have tried to carry on from last season, but sometimes you have to realise that you are a young lad and have a lot to learn.

"The experience of being in a club and league like this is a great education at this age."

Oxlade-Chamberlain has made the difference with his dynamic play when being introduced off the bench, notably when helping to turn the game against Norwich at the Emirates Stadium a fortnight ago when the team were losing 1-0 heading into the final five minutes.

The teenager feels having players who can make a difference on the bench can only aid Arsenal's quest for Champions League qualification, which will continue at relegated QPR on Saturday following the 1-1 draw against title winners Manchester United.

"You always want to start but your responsibility when you are on the bench, especially as a winger, is to come on, change the game and help drive the boys forward, that is what I have been trying to do, to make things happen and add a different dynamic to the game," he said.

"I have been working on things like my team play, my defensive play and getting back into the right positions off the ball and these things aren't often noticed.

"I started pre-season playing in central roles and have played there in training, so I am trying to develop that as well.

"I am happy with the way things are going and the most important thing is that the team finishes where we need to. I am happy to be a part of that."

Wenger, 63, still has another season left to run on his current deal and maintained when quizzed about the PSG link after the United match that "I have always respected my contracts, and at my age, I am not going to change."

It is understood Arsenal will look to formalise negotiations over an extension once the campaign is over, with Wenger having often talked of his desire to see the latest generation deliver a long-overdue trophy and will be given the best part of £100million to strength the squad in the summer.

Arsenal will head to Loftus Road for Saturday's early evening kick-off again without 17-goal striker Olivier Giroud as he serves the second of a three-match suspension.

Lukas Podolski produced a determined display in the central role against United, if with limited impact, so the pace of Theo Walcott could be used to stretch the QPR backline this weekend.

Whatever line-up he selects, Wenger accepts there will be no margin for error if his team are to stay in the hunt to finish in the top four, with only three points separating Chelsea in third and fifth-placed Tottenham, albeit with Arsenal having played a match more.

"We have no alternative [other than] to win our games and let's start with the next one [at Queens Park Rangers]," Wenger said to Arsenal Player.

"At the moment, we look forward. We will look back at the end of the season.

"Let's give the maximum, continue to play with the spirit we have shown and we will see where we stand at the end of the season."


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