Euro 2012: Oxlade-Chamberlain is a special player, admits Larsson
Former Arsenal midfielder Sebastian Larsson considers England's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to be a "terrific" talent
Sebastian Larsson has described Englnd’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as a “terrific talent” ahead of Sweden’s Euro 2012 showdown with Roy Hodgson’s side.
Larsson began his career in the English top flight at Arsenal in 2004 before moving to Birmingham City on loan in 2006, and opting to join the St Andrews outfit on a permanent basis the following season.
The 27-year-old, currently a key member of Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland squad, has been left impressed by Arsenal youngster Oxlade-Chamberlain after the 18-year-old became England’s second youngest player to feature at a European championship.
“Of course he’s a terrific talent,” said Larsson.
“He’s done extremely well since he signed for Arsenal – in his first season there he’s impressed a lot of people. To go straight into the England team and play in the first game against France is obviously impressive.
“It says that he’s a guy with a lot of talent and that he can play football, so good on him.”
Sweden suffered a 2-1 defeat by co-hosts Ukraine in their opening Euro 2012 game, but Larsson says his team-mates are ready for a “special” fixture against England.
“It is a special game and a lot of Swedes feel it is a special game,” Larsson added.
“It [the Premier League] is a league I follow closely and have grown up with, and England is one of the biggest countries in football.”
He added: “England will always be England and it is always difficult to play them. They have a lot of excellent players and they have proved they are a stable team.”
Pre-match facts: Sweden v England
• Sweden have never lost a competitive game against England, with their seven previous encounters ending W2 D5 L0; the teams’ last three competitive match-ups all produced draws.
• Sweden have won one of the nations’ three meetings at major final tournaments, a 2-1 triumph at Euro ’92 which was followed by two draws (1-1 at the 2002 World Cup and 2-2 at the 2006 finals).
• England passed through qualifying unbeaten – five wins and three draws – and the 1-1 draw against France means they have not lost a competitive game since a 4-1 defeat by Germany in the 2010 World Cup round of 16; their worst ever result at a final tournament.
• Lescott’s matchday one strike was his first England goal on his 17th appearance. It was also England’s only attempt on target in Donetsk, compared to France’s 15.