Arsenal star says Gunners won’t change their style for Chelsea clash
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain insists that Arsenal will not surrender their attacking style when they take on front-runners Chelsea in their next Premier League game.
The Gunners, who recorded their fourth draw in six league games after being held 1-1 by neighbours Tottenham on Saturday, are already six points behind Jose Mourinho’s side in the table.
They suffered a humiliating 6-0 defeat on their last visit to Stamford Bridge in March, when Oxlade-Chamberlain was at the centre of an embarrassing mistake by referee Andre Marriner.
But the England midfielder – who handled the ball to prevent a goal on that occasion, only to stay on because Marriner wrongly believed team-mate Kieran Gibbs was the culprit – says his side will continue to adopt a positive approach against Chelsea.
“We know this year we’ve got to step up in the big games and get some results in them,” said Oxlade-Chamberlain. “We do understand what happened there [Chelsea] last year and maybe we’ve got a point to prove. “We’ll be really looking forward to that game and we’ll definitely give Chelsea the respect they deserve.
“But at the same time I have belief in my team-mates and I do definitely think we can go to a place like Chelsea, set the tempo and take control of the game.
“There will be times in the game, I’m sure, when Chelsea have a spell because they’re a top team.
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“But we’re going to have ours and we’ve got to make sure that, when we do have our chances, we make them count.”
Arsenal failed to make the most of their early opportunities in Saturday’s north London derby and, despite controlling the majority of possession, they fell behind on the break.
That situation had echoes of the Gunners’ previous home match against Manchester City, when they also conceded against the run of play before recovering to claim a draw.
“We send a lot of bodies forward in a positive fashion and you do leave yourselves a bit vulnerable to the counter-attack at times,” admitted Oxlade-Chamberlain, who netted the Gunners’ equaliser on Saturday.
“As a team we do try to work on stopping that at source but sometimes you do get countered and teams maybe set up to do that against us. We’ve got to be ready for that and we’ll continue to work on it.
“It’s important that, when we do, we’ve got people in the team that are willing to take the responsibility of holding back and being there to stop counter-attacks.
“I do love being in this team and playing the style that we play – as I think all the players do – but we need to be careful and make sure we’re defending at the same time as we’re attacking.
“We know how much it means to everyone not to lose the game [against Tottenham] and personally I’m a bit disappointed that we didn’t manage to nick the last goal and take all three points.”
The result against Spurs meant that, along with Chelsea, fourth-placed Arsenal are the only team in the Premier League who remain unbeaten after six matches.
An alternative interpretation of the Gunners’ results to date is that they have won just twice in those six games – although they have now come from behind to gain a result on four occasions.
Oxlade-Chamberlain sees that as proof of increased resolve in the squad – and also feels that the glut of drawn matches may turn out to be valuable in the long run.
“You have to show character to come back, but it’s not a situation we want to find ourselves in too often, having to fight to get back into games,” added the 21-year-old.
“Nerves can creep up at that point but, if we are going behind, then it’s definitely a positive that the team can show character to get back into these games.
“There have been games that we’d like to have won, but the important thing is we haven’t lost. We’re not losing any games and I think that can play a role towards the end of the season.
“You never know how important these points here and there can be and, if you’re not losing games, you’ve got a chance to build on that.”