Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain eager to repay faith of Arsenal fans

 

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain vowed to give Arsenal supporters more to cheer about after emerging from his full Barclays Premier League debut as a new fans favourite.

Chamberlain's performance was one of few positives for the Gunners after yesterday's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United, with the Emirates Stadium crowd mesmerised by his pace and trickery.

And they were up in arms when manager Arsenal Wenger replaced the 18-year-old with the increasingly-unpopular Andrey Arshavin 16 minutes from time, something that backfired spectacularly.

But in between jeering the decision and Arshavin's entrance, fans also did not forget to applaud Oxlade-Chamberlain as he left the field.

"It's nice when you know the crowd are on your side," said Oxlade-Chamberlain, who joined Arsenal from Southampton this summer.

"I can only repay them by working my hardest when I do get on and trying to impress them.

"But, ultimately, it's putting a shift in for the lads for the club and for the manager. So I'll continue to do that when I'm playing."

Despite his controversial withdrawal, Oxlade-Chamberlain did enough to expect to keep his place for Sunday's FA Cup clash against Aston Villa.

But the winger, who laid on Robin van Persie's equaliser, was fully aware he would need to keep performing to secure a run in the side.

"You can have one good game but the next one could be a bad one," he said.

"It was a nice performance from me and I thought there were positives for the team.

"I've got to make sure I keep my place now."

Starting against United was a big vote of confidence from Wenger, regardless of the decision to substitute him.

"I was happy to first get a start," Oxlade-Chamberlain said.

"Obviously, against opposition like Man United, it doesn't come any better than that."

He added: "That is a positive for me to take away, having the boss's trust.

"I've got to just make sure that I repay that with my performances and just working hard in training and when I'm on the pitch."

Oxlade-Chamberlain admitted United "punished" Arsenal's defensive mistakes - which included Arshavin's limp attempt to prevent Antonio Valencia setting up the winner - but insisted there were also "a lot of positives".

He was also adamant the Gunners could "definitely" close the five-point gap to fourth-placed Chelsea.

"You just have to look around the dressing room," he added. "There's quality players wherever you look.

"We definitely know we've got what it takes and it's just about sticking together from now on and coming out of this sticky patch a better team."

That "sticky patch" is now three successive Premier League defeats, with only the FA Cup win over Leeds providing some respite.

Arsenal will be hoping Sunday's fourth-round tie does the same.

"FA Cup or league, we look to win every game," Oxlade-Chamberlain said.

"Obviously, we've had a bit of trouble in the Premier League at the moment but we'll approach Villa in the same way.

"We'll look to win, qualify for the next round, and then focus back on the Premier League."

PA

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