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Defence as vital as attack, says young Gunner

Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has revealed Arsene Wenger is helping him improve the defensive side of his game.

The former Southampton winger enjoyed an impressive debut campaign with the Gunners last season but wants to improve his all-round game.

“There are always lots of errors the boss speaks to me about,” Oxlade-Chamberlain told The Sun.

“He wants to fine-tune my whole game and make me a better player. I think I have to be more assertive defensively to be a better player.

“I will hold my hands up for that. Defending is not a natural side of my game, but it is equally as important, particularly when you are playing in the Premier League.

“So I have to work on defending and I think I can improve on that — that is the main aim.

“I am really looking forward to the start of the season. I am taking it step-by-step and the first aim is to make sure I am fully fit for the start of the season, to get the best chance to get in the team.

“I know it won’t be easy. The new signings are really good while we have good talent here coming through, so if I do manage to get into the Arsenal team, I need to try and stay in there.”

The midfielder scored four times and assisted three goals last season in 26 appearances, but accepted more results were needed from him in the attacking third to cement his place in the team.

“Being more of an attacking player, I need to score more goals and get more assists,” Oxlade-Chamberlain added.

“That wins games and people notice that.

“I will always put my own style on things, which is taking people on and being an exciting player to watch. You have to have that confidence otherwise you won’t go anywhere. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.

“But you also have to keep your feet on the ground, realise it is a very hard league and you cannot take your foot off the gas at any time.”

Oxlade-Chamberlain was included in England’s Euro 2012 squad and described his delight at starting the Three Lions’ first game against France and the disappointment of the quarter-final defeat to Italy.

The 18-year-old also reserved special praise for Andrea Pirlo after the midfielder played a crucial role in Italy’s run to the final in Poland and Ukraine.

“To get the nod in the first game against France was unbelievable,” he said.

“It doesn’t get any better than that. For the boss to pick me in the other games off the bench was also brilliant.

“The Italy game was just horrible, the fact we lost. You could see how hard the boys worked for 120 minutes. I learned a lot from that game, watching our boys but also from Andrea Pirlo.

“Maybe some people don’t think I am a central midfielder, some people think I am a winger, but to see quality like that on the pitch was something.

“I will learn a lot from that and how to defend against someone like him. It was a good learning curve but still heart-breaking in terms of the way we went out of the competition.”

Thu 26 July, 2012
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