Arsene Wenger was forced into using Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the central midfield role in Arsenal’s Champions League match against AC Milan, and he was pleased with the performance of the 18 year-old.
Wenger said after the game: “For a guy who has never played at the top level in central midfield, he started in a Champions League game and he did well. He tired a bit in the second half after his injury, and he got less of the ball than he did in the first half. When he got the ball, you always think something could happen. He can play all of the places across the pitch, in midfield to wide. You could see he has suffered physically, but also that he has the class to be in there.”
So Wenger was asked yesterday if he thought that Chambo could now be kept in that position now that he has proved himself capable. “I don’t think he is ready to play in this role personally but he will certainly develop into it in the future,” Wenger said.
“He will play there again but I think he has to play where he is needed basically. The most important thing at the moment is that he develops well.
“He had a good game but he still has many things to add to his game. That is the purpose now for his work, especially the fitness, the physical intensity to add to his game. That will certainly come if he works hard.
“You are not a star after five or 10 games, let us let him play 100 times and then we will talk again.”
Wenger has handled Oxlade-Chamberlain very cleverly this season to make sue that he doesn’t suffer the burn out that Jack Wilshere suffered last summer. Just imagine if he comes back even stronger next season!