• FA Cup

Oxlade-Chamberlain to make first start since August

ESPN staff
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Oxlade-Chamberlain has not started for Arsenal since August © Getty Images
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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is in line for his first start of the year against Coventry in Friday night's FA Cup tie.

Arsene Wenger has fielded Oxlade-Chamberlain as a substitute in recent matches against Aston Villa and Fulham, but will now hand him a starting place for the first time since he sustained ligament damage in the opening game of the league season against Villa.

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Wenger insists he will field a strong side against Coventry at the Emirates, with Oxlade-Chamberlain a major piece of that jigsaw. The manager also believes that Oxlade-Chamberlain will lead the line as a central striker in the near future.

"He is in advance of where every player of his age is," said Wenger. "He is in the national team, a regular player here and he has just been handicapped by a four-month injury but overall he is in a very strong position.

"He can play central and that is not some way off. It is always just finding the right balance because around him you also need a more defensive player. But I like his qualities in the middle because he can penetrate and has good power to get out of pressure, that is a very important quality in the middle of the park.

"He can pass people, can accelerate the game, has a good final ball and a good long pass."

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