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Oxlade-Chamberlain maturing at just the right time for club and country

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 574

Pin Alex Oxlade-Chamberlaiplaying footbal. Goal
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlaiplaying footbal. Goal

Oxlade-Chamberlain maturing at just the right time for club and country

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 574

The midfielder is still only 23 and, after several seasons ravaged by injury, looks finally set to push on and claim a regular starting spot in the Arsenal and England teams.

"I would be lying to say it hasn't crossed my mind that I need more game time. There is going to come a time in my career, and I think I'm approaching it, when I do need to get more regular football but my focus is completely and utterly on playing for Arsenal and breaking into the team when I get the opportunity".

The comments were telling. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's Sunday-morning appearance on Sky Sports' 'Goals on Sunday' in November came as a surprise but the words which he said with such resonance certainly didn't. At 23 years old, many have been quick to pile the pressure on a player who arrived from Southampton in 2011 for a deal worth up to £15 million. Oxlade-Chamberlain is the first to admit that he has yet to fulfil the much-talked-about potential which saw him score 10 goals in 41 games as the Saints gained promotion from League One.

Oxlade-Chamberlain's Arsenal career has been heavily affected by injury. The stop-start nature of his time in north London was compared to that of Theo Walcott by Gunners boss Arsene Wenger on Monday when the Frenchman admitted that Chamberlain "had many, many setbacks" before declaring that this is "the first season where he has the consistency of presence". Indeed, being present in the starting XI at Arsenal is no mean feat and the Portsmouth-born winger is currently competing with youngster Alex Iwobi for a regular place in Wenger's team.

That "consistency of presence" has seen Oxlade-Chamberlain deliver the goods on the big stage this season, where he has scored six goals and notched six assists in 12 games in all competitions. Not only has it been a question of staying fit and keeping off the treatment table, Chamberlain has worked hard on the psychological area of his game where the confidence from his performances continues to help him improve match by match.

Lack of self belief affects players for different reasons. Chamberlain's inconsistent performances on the pitch over the past couple of seasons have been down to his inability to stay fit throughout a whole campaign - and he will hope that the last few weeks of goals, assists and blistering pace in attack are a sign of things to come.

With 18 months left on his current contract, talks are already underway over keeping the England man at Arsenal for the long term. He may be keen to bide his time while the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez's representatives continue to negotiate the best deals for their respective players, especially if he continues to produce the goods on the pitch.

"I would be lying to say it hasn't crossed my mind that I need more game time," said Chamberlain in November. Circumstances change somewhat surprisingly fast in football and those comments from a player who seemed almost resigned to leaving the club look far in the distance when you assess the current level of his performances in an Arsenal shirt.

It appears that the competition with Iwobi on the flanks is helping get the best out of Chamberlain, with the England man flourishing in a wide role on the left-hand side. "Alex is much more efficient going forward now," said Wenger. "He can provide - he provided a good final ball for Ozil on Saturday and he can score goals himself. That's what you want from him".

The manager wants him, the players love him and now all that's left is for the player to commit his future to the club. It may take some weeks and months but it finally look as if Oxlade-Chamberlain is coming of age and starting to believe the hype from so many in the game who believe that he can become one of English football's finest players.

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