Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been taking cues from Dani Alves since moving to a wing-back role for Arsenal.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was redeployed to cover the right flank when Arsene Wenger re-jigged his side into a 3-4-3 formation last month and turned in a string of impressive performances.
The England international set up Nacho Monreal’s equaliser in the 2-1 FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City but his chances of taking part in the final were placed in jeopardy when he suffered a hamstring strain at Southampton two weeks ago.
But the 23-year-old, who missed out on a place in the matchday squad when Arsenal lifted the cup in 2014 and only featured in a late substitute cameo 12 months later at Wembley, confirmed he is fit to face Chelsea in Saturday’s showpiece and has been studying one of the modern greats in his new position.
“When I’ve watched teams that play with five at the back and wing-backs, I’ve looked at their starting positions and positions out of possession because that comes a little bit more unnaturally to me,” Oxlade-Chamberlain said.
“I take note of anyone when they play. Tottenham play with that formation, Chelsea play with that formation. There’s a lot of teams who have played with that formation, so I watch all the full-backs, the left-back, the right-back.
“When I’ve watched Dani Alves recently, he might not play the five at the back, but the way he plays, he marches on and he adds a lot in an attacking sense as well as defensively. Players like that, you watch and you learn from them.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain faces an anxious wait to see whether he will start ahead of Hector Bellerin, who has impressed in his absence and scored a rare goal in the 3-1 last-day win over Everton in the Premier League.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) May 26, 2017
“Hector, I guess he’s more naturally suited to the right-back role but since the wing-back situation has come into play that’s played into my hands,” said Oxlade-Chamberlain.
“Both of us are capable of playing the position. It was a bad time for me to pick up the injury but since Hector’s been playing he’s done really well. We know he’s more than capable of performing in that role.”
Despite enjoying his outings on the flank, Oxlade-Chamberlain – who refused to answer questions on his future amid speculation linking him to a move away from Arsenal – still sees his long-term future as a central midfielder.
“I’ve spoken to the manager a few times and he says that’s where he sees me ending up,” he added.
— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) May 25, 2017
“On a personal level I really enjoy playing in midfield and the times I played there this year I enjoyed it and thought, ‘this is where I want to be able to play moving forward’.
“I think that is maybe my main ambition to end up playing there but it’s a tricky one to nail me down to one position still because my attributes do go hand-in-hand with playing out wide as well.
“It just depends what the best fit for the team is at the time as to where I play but long-term I’d hope to end up playing more central.”
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