The Arsenal and England international star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could well be set to feature in his third game in the space of a week tomorrow evening, when Olympiacos come to town for the second round of Champions League group games.
He had mixed fortunes in his previous two appearances, scoring an unlucky own goal in Zagreb but then producing the fierce shot that the Spurs keeper could only parry into the path of Flamini in the north London derby. The Ox has been looking strong and sharp this season, despite not being a regular starter and he has revealed that the Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez is a big factor behind his form.
In a statement reported by Arsenal.com today, Chamberlain spoke about how he gains inspiration from his Chilean team mate, in just about every aspect of him as a player.
The young Gunner said, “The one thing I would say about Alexis is that he’s one of the most passionate and hungry individuals I know. As a player, he brings out the best of you in training every day and also in the matches.
“If he knows when he’s not at his best, which is rare, he’ll always push himself to do as well as he can and he demands a lot of himself.
“To look at how many goals he scored last year makes it hard for me not to learn from him. It’s his everyday mannerisms around the training ground, how he trains, his performances, how he scores goals, how he plays and how he defends from up front.
“These are all things that we can all learn, that everyone who watches football could learn from. I’ve definitely put myself in the bracket of somebody who learns from him every day.
“He’s someone that loves football, just loves playing and being involved in and around football. That comes out in training.
“He’s very passionate, very upbeat and is a massive character in the team. For someone who doesn’t have amazing English, he manages to communicate so well to all of us and keep the dressing room upbeat. That’s what I mean by his mannerisms and how positive he is around the team.”
The two have similar styles of playing as well as physiques and so Alexis does seem to be the perfect role model for the Ox. And it could well be paying off, according to Kieran Gibbs. The defender said on the Arsenal website that, although he feels his international team mate still needs to be playing more to really hit top form, Chamberlain has clearly been training harder and is in better condition than ever, as well as being encouraged by Alexis to express himself on the pitch.
Gibbs said, “He’s in the best shape he’s ever been in physically and the more minutes he gets, the more dangerous he’s going to be,” the England defender said. “That’s what I feel he needs at the moment, more game time.
“The situations he is getting into on the pitch will come more naturally to him and his goalscoring is going to be a bit like Aaron’s. At first it was difficult for Aaron to find the net but then all of a sudden it just clicks and I don’t think he’s going to stop scoring.
“You’ve got players like Alex who you know can change a game and you have to encourage him to express himself, to do whatever he can, whatever he feels is right to do, as long as the players aren’t doing the opposite to him. It’s always encouraged by us and the manager.”
Has Ox got the ability and attitude to become as good as Alexis?