Southampton: Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is relishing the prospect of continuing his recovery from injury against the Southampton team with whom he forged his career. The 20-year-old England international spent 11 years with the English south-coast club before leaving for the Emirates Stadium in 2011 in a 12 million pounds move.
Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Pic/Getty Images
Oxlade-Chamberlain will return to St Mary’s for the second time today and he is looking forward to facing a familiar foe. “To go back there in any sense is always really nice, especially when we go to play them,” he said.
“Last season I went back there and it was a surreal feeling for me, warming up on the opposite side of the pitch and being in the opposite dressing room. It was the first time I went back there to play, so it was a bit weird for me. I’m looking forward to going back this season. Obviously they’re doing really well, so it’s a tough game for us.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain made his first start since suffering a knee injury in August as Arsenal beat third-tier Coventry City 4-0 in the FA Cup fourth round. The winger has returned to a team high on confidence at the top of the Premier League table, having won their last seven matches in all competitions.
Oxlade-Chamberlain says a close bond between the players formed over the past few years is underpinning their success. “The main group and the spine of the team has been together for two or three years, so it’s starting to form that togetherness,” he said.
“Knowing each other better on and off the pitch helps our style of play. We’ve learnt that everyone has been in and around it for a few years now and we know what the boss (Arsene Wenger) expects and how he wants us to go about it.
“We know what to expect with each other and I think you can see that now when we do play. Even when we’re not playing well, we know how to grind out results and that’s a big thing.” “We set each other high standards and if you do something that’s not good enough, you can bet your bottom dollar that one of your teammates will tell you when he believes you're better than that.”