Why Arsenal boss Wenger has to keep faith with Oxlade-Chamberlain

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The England international has struggled for Premier League minutes this season, but has been a key man in the Gunners' march to EFL Cup quarter-finals

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has become something of a fringe figure at Arsenal this season.

He has been restricted to just five Premier League starts, and failed to see out the 90 minutes in any of those outings.

A further six appearances have been made off the bench in the top-flight, but the England international has tended to save his best for cup competitions.

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Oxlade-Chamberlain has five goals to his name this season, but only one of those has come in the league – on the opening day against Liverpool.

He was on target in a 6-0 mauling of Ludogorets in a Champions League tie back in October, while three efforts have already been notched in the EFL Cup.

In fact, the 23-year-old has netted Arsenal’s last three goals in the competition – having found the target late on against Nottingham Forest before bagging a match-winning brace in a 2-0 victory over Reading.

Given that no player has been as effective as Oxlade-Chamberlain in the EFL Cup this season, and his need for regular game time, it would be a surprise if Arsene Wenger were to overlook him against Southampton on Wednesday.

If he is included from the off, then it would be back-to-back starts for the energetic midfielder – having made the XI for Sunday’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth.

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Arsenal’s record against Oxlade-Chamberlain’s former employers on home soil is impressive, as they have suffered only one defeat in their last 23 meetings with the Saints in north London – although that setback did come in the 2014-15 League Cup.

While they have tended to boss things against Southampton in recent times, Wenger’s men have progressed through only one of their last five outings in the League Cup quarter-finals – back in 2010-11.

The Saints, meanwhile, have been eliminated at this stage on each of their last seven attempts, with no semi-final appearance made since 1986-87.

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