By Nick Ames in Kiev
Former Arsenal midfielder Sebastian Larsson has sung the praises of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead of Sweden’s meeting with England on Friday evening.
The Swede, now with Sunderland, came up against the Gunners youngster when Arsène Wenger’s side travelled to the Stadium of Light in February – and the 18 year-old’s subsequent progress into the national team has not escaped his attention.
“Of course he’s a terrific talent," said Larsson.
“He’s done extremely well since he signed for Arsenal - in his first season there he’s impressed a lot of people. To go straight into the England team and play in the first game against France is obviously impressive. It says that he’s a guy with a lot of talent and that he can play football, so good on him.”
Larsson, who played 12 games for Arsenal before signing for Birmingham City in January 2007, admits that Friday's fixture has extra significance for him and his country.
“It is a special game and a lot of Swedes feel it is a special game,” he said.
“It [the Premier League] is a league I follow closely and have grown up with, and England is one of the biggest countries in football.”
Sweden got off to a disappointing start in their first Group D outing, losing 2-1 to host nation Ukraine – but they’ll be cheered on by some 18,000 fans in Kiev’s Olympic Stadium as they bid to get their campaign on track.
“It’s amazing we have that sort of support,” said Larsson. “We had it against Ukraine as well but on Friday we will feel it even more. England will always be England and it is always difficult to play them. They have a lot of excellent players and they have proved they are a stable team.”