Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says he still harbours hopes of playing more regularly in the centre of midfield despite making a splash as a wing-back for Arsenal in the last two months.
The 23-year-old has started games in the middle of the park for both club and country this season, however, with pace, power and dribbling ability aplenty he’s also proved himself a useful weapon on the flanks; a position he’s been happy to occupy for the good of the team.
“I’ve spoken to the manager a few times and that [in the centre] is where he says he sees me ending up,” Chamberlain told press ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup Final.
“On a personal level I really enjoy playing in midfield. And the time I played there this year I enjoyed it and thought, this is where I want to be able to play moving forward.
“So yeah, maybe that is my main ambition to end up playing there. But I think it’s a tricky one to nail me down to one position still. Because my attributes, they do go hand in hand with playing out wide as well. And I think it just depends what the best fit for the team is. But I think long-term, I’d hope that I end up playing more central.”
Having picked up a minor hamstring strain three weeks ago, there was a doubt over whether the Ox would be available for the final game of the season. Thankfully, having missed previous FA Cup finals with injury, he’s been passed fit this time. That said, the player admits he faces stiff competition for a starting berth with Hector Bellerin returning to form in his absence.
“I’d love to start the game and play the whole game,” continued the Ox. “But team selection is tough. Hector has been doing really well. Who knows, I could play elsewhere, I’m not sure. That’s up to the boss.
“But as long as the team that goes out there puts in everything and gets the right end result, I’ll be just as happy as every single other Arsenal player and fan in the stadium.”
Just to prove he’s taking his wing-back responsibilities seriously, the Ox also revealed he’s been keeping tabs on the positioning of players who’ve made a name for themselves in wide defensive roles.
“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,” he continued.
“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.
“There’s nobody in particular that springs to mind. 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.”