Arsene Wenger says Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s improved form has been inspired by Theo Walcott’s renaissance this campaign.
The England international, 23, scored both goals for Arsenal as they beat Reading 2-0 on Tuesday night to reach the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup. The brace takes the Ox’s tally for the season to five, already his best season tally since joining the Gunners in 2011.
Reflecting on Chamberlain’s purple patch, the boss told press after the game that hard work and focus in training is paying dividends for a player coming into the prime of his career.
“Before, sometimes you felt he acted in front of goal like he didn’t deserve to score,” said Wenger. “Now he has added some belief to his finishing. You have hope every time he has the ball that something can happen.
“He is of course, powerful but he finishes well. He has added that to his game — that’s linked with confidence. He has worked very hard and is following Walcott in the same way. They are lifting each other.
“He is sharper, more determined. He has worked a lot mentally to be focused. I think it comes out every day in training and now it’s starting to come out in games.
“He’s not a young player anymore; he’s now 23 and at 23 you become a finished article. Before 23 you learn your job; at 23 you become more consistent, you know what’s expected of you, you know how to deal with the pressure, the competition inside the squad.
“He was so talented so young, in the national team so young that people forget they are still young players.”
On whether Chamberlain is now pushing for a regular place in his starting XI, Wenger added: “He’s not a long way away from the starting XI because he played against Ludogorets, he played here which was expected, but Ludogorets was a very important game. He came on against Middlesbrough on Saturday and I feel that he is regularly involved.”