By Rob Kelly
Arsène Wenger believes Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain must forget he is facing former club Southampton if he is to thrive against them on Saturday.
The England international spent his formative years at the south-coast club after joining their academy aged seven, and has expressed his delight at their promotion back to the Premier League.
But Wenger says sentiment must not enter the teenager’s mind if he gets his chance against Nigel Adkins’ men this weekend.
“He has to forget that it’s his former club and just play,” the manager said. “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, but most of the time they have a very average day.
“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 admits that Southampton’s academy system is “unbelievable”, having signed both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott from the club in recent years.
“First of all it is [down to] fantastic scouting and they have a good development and coaching programme with young players,” he said.
“They started that earlier than anyone else. They have a good reputation with their youth.”Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source