Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain won't be a victim of ex-club syndrome against Southampton

Wenger says players can freeze against old clubs but has true faith in his very talented teenager

If Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is dropped for this afternoon's game with Southampton, it will not be because Arsène Wenger lacks faith in him. The teenage midfielder, who started both of England's World Cup qualifiers, has asserted himself as one of the league's most compelling youngsters.

But that is not the issue here. Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Arsenal from Southampton last summer for £12m, another product of that remarkable footballer factory on the South Coast. Southampton, back in the Premier League, come to the Emirates for the first time today. Wenger has seen players freeze against former clubs before, and is wary that it might happen to Oxlade-Chamberlain.

"He has to forget it is his former club and just play," the Arsenal manager said of the talented teenager. "I don't know if he will start or not. It's always a little bit special for the guys who play against their former clubs. And I've not seen many players who can deal well with that. Sometimes they are absolutely outstanding, or most of the time they have a very average day."

Although Oxlade-Chamberlain plays with teenage courage, Wenger admitted this "former club inhibition" was more of a concern with young players: "You try to assess how big the weight of this special moment will play on their mind. The more experienced they are, the better they deal with it."

Wenger is delighted, though, with Oxlade-Chamberlain's progress in his first year at Arsenal. Not many would have predicted that his fairly limited first-team involvement last season would lead to the national side. But it did, as Roy Hodgson took Oxlade-Chamberlain to Euro 2012 and started him against France in Donetsk.

"He is ahead of schedule, yes, because I didn't expect him to be, honestly, in the national team at the moment," Wenger confirmed. "He is ahead of what I have planned."

During this international fortnight, Hodgson picked the 19-year-old on the left wing for the win in Moldova and the draw against Ukraine. He was not perfect at Wembley on Tuesday night, but he was not the only one, and it was only his seventh cap.

Football is full of talented youngsters who have lost focus after a bright start. International recognition can damage as well as develop. But Wenger is confident Oxlade-Chamberlain has the character to get the benefit, with none of the downside.

Wenger said: "It could be bad if he was a bit big-headed. But he is very level-headed, very humble. So I think it's good to experience the tactical level of the other players in England. When you come from youth-team football basically to that level, it's like you go from primary school to university. And you have to learn quickly. It can be damaging if a guy thinks, 'Hey, look who I am', but he is not like that. In his case it's good."

It is easy to compare the rise of Oxlade-Chamberlain with that of Theo Walcott, who left Southampton for Arsenal at the age of 17 in 2006. It is certainly easy to say that Chamberlain, starting for England, popular with his manager, popular with his fans, is already doing better than the last man whom Wenger plucked from somewhere in a field in Hampshire.

"They are a different style," said Wenger, defending Walcott from unflattering comparisons. "I believe that Walcott is more of a striker type and Chamberlain a more midfielder type. You could see Chamberlain developing into a central midfielder but you could never with Walcott. I see Walcott developing through the middle as a striker and Chamberlain maybe a central midfielder."

Having sold Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain to Arsenal and Gareth Bale to Tottenham, Southampton clearly have the gift of moulding good young footballers. Adam Lallana was on the bench for England on Tuesday and James Ward-Prowse, the 17-year-old midfielder, has impressed so far this season, while Luke Shaw, the left-back of the same age, is the latest to attract Wenger's attention.

The Arsenal manager is unsurprisingly impressed with the work done by Les Reed and others at the Southampton academy. "It is unbelievable," Wenger said. "First of all it is fantastic scouting and they have a good coaching programme with young players. They started that earlier than anyone else. They don't have too many players down there as well, they took many players from here, around our training ground. Like Walcott, and many players from around here. But they must have a good reputation with their youth."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born