October 1 2014 Latest news:
Monday, March 10, 2014
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is vowing not to be overawed when he makes his first Wembley appearance for Arsenal in next month’s FA Cup semi-final.
The 20-year-old midfielder was in outstanding form as the Gunners beat Everton 4-1 to reach the last four of the competition, where they will face holders Wigan.
Although Oxlade-Chamberlain has represented his country at Wembley several times – most recently in last week’s friendly against Denmark – he admits the prospect of playing for Arsenal at the famous stadium is an exciting one.
It will be only the second time the Gunners have featured in an FA Cup tie at the new Wembley – the first came five years ago, when they lost their semi-final against Chelsea, 2-1.
“Every round you go through, you get that little bit closer and you get hungrier and hungrier for the end result,” said Oxlade-Chamberlain.
“You watch games in the FA Cup at Wembley when you’re growing up and that’s where you want to get to – that’s the stage and it’s what the Cup’s all about.
“It’s the first time I’ve managed to get there since I’ve been at Arsenal and it is definitely a big thing for us.
“But we can’t get too carried away and let that occasion overcome us, we’ve got to approach it in the same way we do every other game.
“We’ve got to be up for it, but approach it very professionally and as coolly and calmly as we can, and hopefully we can get through to where we want to be, which is the final.
“As professionals, we all want to win things and I can say that for every one of our team.
“It is an opportunity for us and we’re one step closer, but we still need to get through a tough semi-final.”
Saturday’s last eight tie against Everton presented the Gunners with a far sterner examination than the eventual scoreline might have indicated as they triumphed 4-1.
Oxlade-Chamberlain played a key role in his side’s victory, winning the penalty that gave Mikel Arteta the opportunity to restore Arsenal’s lead midway through the second half.
The England international, who made way for Tomas Rosicky 10 minutes later, acknowledges that fatigue has been a problem as he continues the process of regaining full match fitness after his five-month lay-off with a cruciate ligament injury.
“We knew that if we weren’t at it we’d get punished by a good Everton side and right from the start we tried to set the tempo high and stamp our authority on the game,” added Oxlade-Chamberlain.
“I felt both teams tried to play good football and I felt like I did a lot of running, especially in the first half. At half-time I was a bit tired.
“But you’ve got to be able to keep up that sort of momentum and stamina – and that’s what the boss said to us, we had to keep up the same intensity as in the first half and take it into the second half.
“I haven’t had a run of games like some of the boys have had and maybe that’s because of my long injury. So until that happens you can never be sure you’re 100 per cent fit.
“But I feel good when I’m on the pitch, I feel sharp and I feel that I’m there or thereabouts. After five months out and four weeks back, you feel like you’ve played a whole season!
“It does take it out of you, coming back into the environment and the level the Premier League’s played at. It’s tough, but then you get over that peak and start to blend into it and feel good and that’s the stage I’m at now.”
The Wigan clash will be Arsenal’s ninth FA Cup semi-final since Arsene Wenger became their manager, with a record of five successes from the previous eight.
The Gunners have won the competition 10 times in all. Of the other semi-finalists, Sheffield United have won the Cup four times, while Hull have never done so and Wigan’s solitary success came in last season’s final against Manchester City.