Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says he’s thriving at wing-back in Arsene Wenger’s 3-4-3 formation because it affords him a number of options when he bursts down the right flank.
The England international was deservedly voted Arsenal’s player of the month for April after assisting goals in games against West Ham and Manchester City and looked dangerous at Southampton on Wednesday before a hamstring problem curtailed his involvement.
Reflecting on his new role, the 23-year-old spoke positively about the freedom he enjoys when the Gunners play three at the back.
“It suits my game because when I’m playing wing-back there’s a lot of space to run into,” Oxlade-Chamberlain told Arsenal Player.
“I feel like I’m more natural running with the ball as opposed to running off the ball for someone to play over the top.
“I like to be able to run with it and be a bit more of a midfield influence as opposed to a forward. Playing at wing-back, I receive a lot of balls deep and then I’ve got a few options.
“I can pass back to my centre half, look for Granit or Aaron in midfield, I could look for Mesut or Danny if one of them wants to run into the channels or in behind, or I have the option to cross from deep.
“I kind of did that against Manchester City, where I went to cross it a bit earlier, stopped myself and then after the next few steps I ended up crossing it. Then the final option I have is to run at people as well if the other options aren’t available. It gives you a lot of options, running with the ball, and my main qualities are probably running with the ball and picking a pass.
“From wing-back, you can do that a lot more compared to when you’re higher up the wing, when your options are a little bit limited. You don’t have as much space because you’re receiving the ball a lot higher up and the defender is a lot closer to you. You either take him on or you end up coming back or coming inside. I’ve really enjoyed it so we’ll see how it goes for the rest of the season.”
Arsene Wenger insists that Chamberlain’s latest injury is only a ‘minor’ hamstring injury. That said, he’s likely to miss tomorrow’s match with Stoke City as Arsenal chase another three points in their quest for a top four finish.