Ox - We set each other high standards

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was one of the biggest plus points of Arsenal's FA Cup win on Friday - but a rare mistake from the England international offered a glimpse of why the Gunners have stepped up a level this season.

A misplaced pass from Oxlade-Chamberlain was seized upon by Coventry City and the resulting chance could - and perhaps should - have seen the visitors cut the deficit to 2-1. Captain for the night Per Mertesacker gave his young team-mate an earful, and Oxlade-Chamberlain understands the significance of that.

"We set each other high standards and if you do something that's not good enough you can bet your bottom dollar that one of your team-mates will tell you when he believes you're better than that," he said.

"The main group and the spine of the team has been together for two or three years so it's starting to form that togetherness"

"I gave the ball away and it resulted in them hitting the post. I knew what I did and I knew what I did wrong there and Per just gave me a friendly reminder. That's what you need, you need to keep each other's standards high and we'll be doing it all season.

"But it's important that we do it in the right way, whoever it is. If it's Per he'll have a shout but then afterwards he will come and explain it to you and that's what makes you respond to it. He doesn't do it in a negative way and that's the way we go about it. We just keep doing things positively."

That trust in each other is an important ingredient for a successful team and, according to Oxlade-Chamberlain, the familiarity within the squad is another positive.

"The main group and the spine of the team has been together for two or three years so it's starting to form that togetherness," he said. "Knowing each other better on and off the pitch helps our style of play.

"We've learnt that everyone has been in and around it for a few years now and we know what the boss expects and how he wants us to go about it. We know what to expect with each other and I think you can see that now when we do play. Even when we're not playing well we know how to grind out results and that's a big thing."

The next challenge is a poignant one for Oxlade-Chamberlain - a trip to Southampton to face the club that nurtured his talent before he left for Arsenal.

"To go back there in any sense is always really nice, especially when we go to play them," he said. "Last season I went back there and it was a surreal feeling for me, warming up on the opposite side of the pitch and being in the opposite dressing room.

"It was the first time I went back there to play so it was a bit weird for me. I'm looking forward to going back this season, obviously they're doing really well so it's a tough game for us."

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