Arsenal and England star says Gunners players are starting to follow example of Alexis Sanchez
PUBLISHED: 23:19 12 January 2015 | UPDATED: 07:54 13 January 2015
Alexis Sanchez's industrious approach to the game is starting to rub off on the rest of the Arsenal team, according to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Sanchez was again the Gunners’ stand-out performer in Sunday’s 3-0 win at home to Stoke, not only scoring twice but repeatedly closing down the visitors’ defence.
Oxlade-Chamberlain praised the former Barcelona star’s work ethic as the best he has ever seen – and believes it has encouraged his team-mates to raise their game as well.
“When you see someone working hard from the front, they maybe close three players down and don’t win the ball back, and the rest of us weren’t there to help him out, you have to look at yourself,” admitted the England midfielder.
“It does set the tone for the rest of the team, the boys up front – if they react quickly when we lose the ball, it brings the midfield with them, and the full-backs switch from attack to defence.
“That’s something that we work on hard and Alexis does it better than anyone I’ve seen. It’s come from Barcelona, I think that’s a strong philosophy they play by and maybe he’s picked that up there
“He’s not afraid to get tackled and put himself on the line and work hard. Sometimes if you come from a foreign league people may think that’s not part of their league at all.
“But he’s come to England and he’s more English than anyone I’ve ever seen in his approach. The rest of it takes care of itself – his quality and his finishing.
“He’s brought that to us in every game he’s played – there are definitely a lot of boys learning from him. We can always learn from him because he does it really well.”
Arsenal’s players certainly seemed to follow the example of their Chilean playmaker on Sunday, rarely allowing the Potters space to thrive as they avenged their 3-2 defeat at the Britannia Stadium five weeks earlier.
And Oxlade-Chamberlain feels the ability to ‘mix it’ and adopt a more physical approach will be essential if the Gunners are to continue moving up the Premier League table.
“That’s a quality that every side that finishes high up the table needs to have,” said the 21-year-old. “You can’t always play the way you want to play, you’ve got to roll your sleeves up and I think we showed that.
“I definitely think we lacked it away at Stoke, and that’s why we came out of that game with a loss. We need to take this approach every game because, if we can match teams physically, it gives us a good chance.
“We know in our team we have got the quality going forward to cause teams damage, so it’s always going to be important to do the dirty stuff as well.
“I think we’ve got to give credit to the defence and the way the boys defended – not only the back four, but Francis Coquelin in midfield. I think he was brilliant.
“They gave us the platform to win the ball back, which meant we had more chances and space to be creative in. I think we nullified their threat going forward and we know they can be dangerous going forward.”
Sanchez’s double against Stoke took his tally for the season to 18 goals – and that is another area in which Oxlade-Chamberlain aims to emulate his team-mate.
Although he has featured in the vast majority of Arsenal’s games so far this season, Oxlade-Chamberlain has found the net just twice – against Tottenham and Anderlecht, both at Emirates Stadium.
“I think it’s important for any attacker that wants to be successful to follow his [Alexis] demonstration of how to score goals,” he added.
“On a personal note, I’d love to add more goals to my game and that’s something I’ll be working on.
“Sometimes you can’t put your finger on why that part of your game’s not going right, but I know I’ve got a lot more to offer the team as well.
“I’m trying to help the boys drive forward and give other players opportunities to score – and if it’s Alexis scoring the goals and we’re getting three points then I’m just as happy for that to happen.”