By Chris Harris
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain insists he must keep improving if he wants to nail down a first-team place at Arsenal this season.
It's hard to think of a footballer who has progressed as much as the teenager in the past 12 months. Since moving to Emirates Stadium last summer, Oxlade-Chamberlain has made his mark on the Premier League, the Champions League and even the European Championship.
His elevation to the England squad exceeded even Oxlade-Chamberlain's expectations but the forward knows he cannot ease up, not with such fierce competition for places in Arsène Wenger's line-up.
"I am taking it step by step and the first aim is to make sure I am fully fit for the start of the season, to get the best chance to get in the team," he said.
"I know it won’t be easy. The new signings are really good while we have good talent here coming through. So if I do manage to get into the team, I need to try and stay in there.
"Being more of an attacking player, I need to score more goals and get more assists. That wins games and people notice of that. I will always put my own style on things, which is taking people on and try and be an exciting player to watch."
Oxlade-Chamberlain doesn't turn 19 until three days before the start of the Premier League campaign and yet he's achieved so much already. He puts some of that down to self-confidence.
"You have to have that confidence otherwise you won’t go anywhere," he said. "If you don’t believe in yourself, no-one else will. But you also have to keep your feet on the ground, realise it is a very hard league and know you cannot take your foot off the gas at any time.
"In one moment, it can go from being good to being bad. You have to make sure it doesn’t happen so you have to approach every training session and every game in the same way. That is what I will do. I will keep my head down and keep working off everyone."
Think of Oxlade-Chamberlain and you recall the darting, fearless runs through opposition defences from a player who makes things happen. The 18-year-old is happy with his game-changing reputation but is aware he must work on the more rudimentary skills of a modern midfielder.
"There are always lots of errors he [Arsène Wenger] speaks to me about," admitted Oxlade-Chamberlain. "He wants to fine-tune my whole game and make me a better player.
"I think I have to be more assertive defensively to be a better player. I will hold my hands up for that. It is not a natural side of my game - defending. But it is equally as important, particularly when you are playing in the team and especially in a league like the Premier League.
"So I have to work on defending and I think I have improve on that. That is the main aim. And more crosses, more shots and more goals. You know, I am still a fairly new Arsenal player and I am still learning the Arsenal way. I will keep putting my own spin on it, as well. I am really looking forward to the start of the season."Copyright 2013 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 26 Jul 2012