Arsene Wenger keen not to let Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain burn out
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wary of over-using Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain this season, despite his impressive displays thus far
Arsene Wenger has admitted his concern over the prospect of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain burning out – despite the teenager’s recent impressive performances.
The 18-year-old has been in sparkling form for the Gunners since the turn of the year, and netted twice as Arsenal thrashed Blackburn Rovers 7-1 at The Emirates on Saturday.
But the Arsenal boss says he will exercise caution over how often he chooses to play the forward this term, stressing that he is keen not to over-use him.
“That’s what happened to us last year with Jack Wilshere, it was exactly the same,” he said. “At the start of the season you think, ‘I will play him 20 games, maybe 25’. When they deliver a performance [like Saturday’s] they play 45 and then they play for the national team and then they get injured.
“It’s very difficult to manage because people understand very quickly what kind of influence the players have. You want to win the game so you play them.
“I don’t say I don’t want him to be rewarded with some praise when he has a good game. It’s about trying to find the right balance between having confidence and not being too early and too much under pressure.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain joins Theo Walcott as another former Southampton youth product at Arsenal – but Wenger does not believe comparisons can be drawn between the two players.
“Walcott went to the World Cup without having played in the Premier League at all, so it was a bit early because he was 17 years old. For a while I felt that the pressure on Walcott was after that because nobody had seen him,” he continued.
“He didn’t play at the World Cup and when he came back people said: ‘OK, he has been at the World Cup, now he has to deliver something special’. But you’ve seen now that Theo is developing very well.
“I don’t want to compare [the two players]. The only thing I would say is that Chamberlain already had a complete season in League One and he survived quite well.
“He was a few times injured on his ankle. He’s 18 years old, Theo came here at 16 and a half or 17, so he is a bit older as well.”