Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: Make something happen

From weighing up risks to avoiding tunnel vision, the Arsenal and England playmaker shares the secrets of his attacking play with FourFourTwo

Play it with patience

“As a winger I used to always try to get the ball forward as quick as possible, either by running with it or passing it on. But since I’ve moved centrally I’ve been told by Arsene Wenger to be more patient, as there are times when you need to hold the ball and build a move. You can’t force it. I find the more I play, the more naturally I can assess the game. If I’m on the bench, I find it helps to study the exact movements of my opponent. This helps me make better decisions should I come on.”

You can’t always force the ball forward

More after the break

Don’t get tunnel vision

“The boss always says, ‘You have to do what the game demands – and that’s always changing.’ I think that’s a clever saying. You see so many times where a player decides to shoot five seconds before he gets the ball. When it finally comes to him a better chance for a team-mate has opened up but by then they have tunnel vision. That’s something our boss drills in to us, to do what the game demands. The ability to make quick decisions is what the very top players have.”

Keep an open mind until the last second

Weigh up risk vs reward

“As a creative player you have to take risks, or you’re not going to create anything out of the norm. Whether it’s taking someone on or trying a tough pass, you might only make it two times out of five, but those two times it works and you know you’ve got someone like Theo Walcott running on to it, makes it worth the risk. All our attacking players have the licence to try things in the right areas, but it’s only when you think about making mistakes that it affects you, so don’t lose heart.”

Don’t be afraid to fail in the attacking third

Make drills child’s play

“Controlling the ball in tight situations is crucial for playmakers, and we do simple drills to improve this. It’s the same stuff I did as a kid with jumpers, but when we do it, we do it sharply at full tempo. We bang balls into each other to test each other’s touch, and then we add in more things, like one-twos around mannequins. Even now I’ll spend time after training working on one specific thing, say dribbling with my left foot, and by the end of the week I’ll find I’m more comfortable at it.”

Simple sessions are the most effective

It’s always good to talk

“I can be quiet on the pitch, until a team-mate does something great and I’ll shout something like ‘brilliant’. It picks you up and gives you the confidence to do it again. It’s not all about encouraging, though. We tell each other when someone’s not done something well enough. Tomas Rosicky is really encouraging. He has a go when he needs to, but he does it in a way where I have to agree. It’s constructive and never winds me up, so it gives me confidence to try it again.”

Constructive communication spurs you on

Train that brain

“Fitness is not just about running around for 90 minutes; it’s also massive in keeping you focused, which people don’t realise until they’re in that situation. When you’re really tired and you’ve got the ball, it’s human nature to find the easy option. But at the top level there are no easy options, so that’s when you start making bad decisions. Some players find energy gels help, but I drink lots to get through a game. I’ll have Lucozade Sport before and during the match, which keeps me alert.”

Fitness and fluid will help you retain focus

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is fuelled by Lucozade Sport. Lucozade Sport Hydrates And Fuels You Better Than Water

For more football tips see:
Steven Pienaar: Playing in the hole
Lucas Moura: Dribble the Brazilian way
Accelerate and beat your man like Messi
Angel di Maria on the art of wing play
Andres Iniesta: How to boss the midfield
Michael Ballack: How to be the complete midfielder
Mikel Arteta: Pass your opponents off the park
Yaya Toure: Dominate the middle of the park
Jack Wilshere: How to keep possession

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