Wenger: Arsenal’s Oxlade-Chamberlain is ahead of schedule
Arsenal's Arsene Wenger admits he didn't expect Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to be an England regular at this stage of his career
Arsene Wenger admits he did not expect Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to be an England regular so soon into the forward’s career.
The 19-year-old started on England’s left wing for their recent 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine, with Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson impressed by the teenager’s display in Chisinau.
Wenger signed Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton last summer but despite his recent success for both club and country, the Arsenal boss is confident the youngster will remain grounded.
“Alex is ahead of schedule because I didn’t expect him to be honestly in the national team at the moment,” Wenger said.
“When you come from youth-team football to the senior squad, it’s like going from primary school to university and you have to learn quickly.
“This kind of progress could be bad for someone who is bit big-headed, but Alex is very relaxed, very humble.
“It can be damaging if a guy thinks ‘hey, look who I am’, but he is not like that, so I think it’s good to experience the tactical level of the other players in England.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott will face their former club Southampton at The Emirates on Saturday, with both players opting to leave St Mary’s in their teens to further their careers at Arsenal.
However, Wenger is expecting the pair to develop into vastly different players, with the Frenchman viewing Oxlade-Chamberlain as a midfielder and Walcott as a central striker.
“They are a different style. I believe that Theo is more of a striker-type and Oxlade-Chamberlain is a more midfielder-type,” added Wenger.
“You could see Alex developing into a central midfielder but you could never with Walcott. I see Theo developing through the middle, that is the way we have always hoped he may go.
“You can see this boy maturing well now and I believe he can be an important player for us this season.”