Souness slams Arsenal first-teamer for not taking football seriously enough

By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes

Graeme Souness has questioned whether Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain takes football seriously enough.

The midfielder scored Arsenal’s second goal in their 2-0 Premier League win over Bournemouth on Sunday after being recalled to the team following a spell on the fringes.

It was Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first Premier League goal in 16 months and his first ever away from home in the competition.

Asked on Sunday afternoon for an explanation as to why the England international has still not nailed down a regular starting place at Arsenal in his fifth season at the club, Souness said it could be an attitude issue.

“Does he take it seriously enough? He always seems to be laughing and joking,” the former Liverpool midfielder told Sky Sports.

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“There is a player in there but it is ‘stand up and be counted’ time. At 22 and with the quality he has, he should not be accepting sitting on the bench and being a bit player.

“You’ve got to go in, bang down the manager’s door and say, ‘I’m ready for this’. Is he prepared to do that?

“When I see him interviewed I see him laughing and giggling a lot. If I was his manager I would want to see him serious and be angry at me when I was leaving him out.”

Oxlade-Chamberlain, who made only his eighth Premier League start of the season against Bournemouth, was ignored in favour of midfield anchorman Francis Coquelin in the final minutes of the Gunners’ midweek draw against Southampton.

Wide boy: Wenger has ignored Oxlade-Chamberlain for most of the season

It was a decision that raised eyebrows at the time for a match that Arsenal needed to win to keep the pressure on their title rivals.

Souness added: “Is it because he (Arsene Wenger) doesn’t trust him? You are dominating the game the other night, you look like winning it and you don’t bring on an adventurous player because maybe he might go to sleep and it might end up costing you the game and you end up losing it instead of drawing it.

“At 22, it’s time for Oxlade-Chamberlain to stand up and say ‘this is my moment and I’m going to be a serious player now, and if you don’t play me I’m going to be banging your door down and saying I don’t want to be here’.”