Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both decided to leave Arsenal (Picture: Getty)Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott have explained why they both decided to leave Arsenal.
The duo played nearly 600 games for the Gunners combined but moved on in the past year, Oxlade-Chamberlain joining Liverpool and Walcott heading to Everton.
Walcott spent over a decade at the Emirates after being signed by Arsene Wenger from Southampton in 2006 and says it was the right ‘time’ to leave in January.
Oxlade-Chamberlain offered a similar assessment of his Arsenal exit, saying he needed to move to ‘better himself’.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Oxlade-Chamberlain said: ‘It was a really hard decision. It’s an honour to play for a club like Arsenal.
‘It’s an amazing place to play, it was stable, you build relationships, but I felt I had to do it for football reasons to try and better myself. I’ve loved every minute so far.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has impressed since joining Liverpool (Picture: Reuters)‘It was always horrible coming here as an opposition player but the crowd gives you goosebumps. To hear them singing for you is unbelievable.’
Walcott, meanwhile, said: ‘I feel it was the right time. The loyalty I had for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger meant I could do it the right way.
‘It was time for me to experience something different but still be competitive. The season didn’t start off how we wanted but Everton are going in right direction.
‘I never knew what it was going to be like having been at Arsenal for so long and coming to somewhere completely different, but the fans have taken to me and been so welcoming.
Walcott signed for Everton in January (Picture: Everton FC)‘I’m pleased with how passionate they are, it’s one reason why I came here because I feel like they’re competitive and want to improve.
‘The first time walking about at Goodison Park… you can’t explain it. Then, when I scored my first goal, the emotion came out. It was about enjoying my football again.’
Former teammates Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott will come up against each other this weekend in the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park. Both are fully aware of the importance of the fixture.
‘Every time we play Everton it’s the game of the season,’ Oxlade-Chamberlain added. ‘You can say that if we do well in the Champions League ties and go further, those games will be, but for Liverpool and Everton, this derby is the game of the season.
Wenger signed Oxlade-Chamberlain in 2011 (Picture: Getty)‘We were a bit disappointed not to have come away with three points in the first game at Anfield so we’ll be going out there to get our revenge.
‘It’ll be really exciting, fans out on the streets, going out to warm up and hearing the boos… it gets you going!
‘Liverpool fans will be singing their hearts out; hopefully we can give them something to shout about and ruin Theo’s day!’
Former England international Walcott said: ‘You might get drowned out, though – it’s been so loud at Goodison. It’ll be a very passionate game.
‘I’ll be relaxed until I step off the coach and get into the dressing room. That’s when my game face is on.
‘Up to this point it doesn’t matter what has happened this season. This is the game and it’s my first derby here. I can’t wait.’
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