Last night Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain earned the plaudits on his Emirates debut, putting in a swashbuckling second half performance which helped Arsene Wenger’s next generation of starlets overcome League Two side Shrewsbury Town.
Of course ‘The Ox’ isn’t the only 17-year-old to score his first Arsenal goal in the Carling Cup having been snapped up from the Southampton Academy. Back in 2007 Theo Walcott scored in the final against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in a fractious showdown which eventually ended in disappointment for the Gunners.
Reflecting on the experience of having huge pressure heaped on him from a young age, the now 22-year-old England international told Arsenal Player that he would always be on hand to help his younger teammates deal with the demands of top-level football.
“It’s always difficult. Jack has had it, and will still have it as he’s only 19. Alex has just joined as well, so they’ll be comparisons between me and him, but they are dealing with it and I am always there to help anyone out.
“Obviously having been in the situation I’ve been in, having gone to a World Cup at such a young age and being in the England set-up, it has come naturally to me.
“Hopefully they can deal with that, if they see the way I’ve dealt with it perhaps that can help them out.”
Having been at the club since 2006, Walcott represents one of Arsenal’s longest standing first team players, a fact which has not been lost on him, despite him conceding he is not a natural leader on the pitch.
“I feel like one of the older players, even though I’m only 22, because of the experience I’ve had and the amount of time I’ve been around as well,” he continued.
“I don’t feel any pressure to lead the team or anything like that, but I think it’s important to have a lot of leaders on the pitch.
“If you ask anyone I’m not the sort of player to be a leader, everyone knows that. But I’ve always got time for people, if they’re struggling with anything I like to lift everyone’s heads up, tell them if they are wrong, tell them if they are right. I’m that sort of player.
“I probably wasn’t that type of player a couple of years ago, but that’s a side that has changed.”