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Arsenal starlet eyes derby start

ARSENAL’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is confident that he will be able to deal with the hostile environment of the north London derby should he be called into action at White Hart Lane.

Oxlade-Chamberlain is pushing for a place in Arsene Wenger's starting line-up for this Sunday’s hotly anticipated clash at Tottenham after making an impressive start to his Arsenal career.

The 18-year-old became the youngest Englishman to score in the Champions League on Wednesday when he grabbed the opener in the Gunners' 2-1 win over Greek side Olympiacos.

Theo Walcott's participation in the derby is in doubt after the 22-year-old winger suffered a knee injury in last |Saturday's 3-0 win over Bolton.

And with games against Manchester United, Shrewsbury and Olympiacos under his belt, Oxlade-Chamberlain thinks he will be able to cope with the white-hot atmosphere in Sunday's fixture if he is asked to take Walcott's spot.

“I have heard the boys say it's a hostile environment in the derby but it's a new challenge for me. I am just going to keep taking it all in my stride and keep learning from everything I see,” Oxlade-Chamberlain said.

“The one last season – the 3-3 – that was a fantastic game and I think that epitomises the derby, so it's going to be exciting. I was at home watching it on TV supporting Arsenal, of course.”

Oxlade-Chamberlain signed for the Gunners from Southampton in a £12m move last month.

The highly rated winger has put himself in direct competition with Walcott for a place on the right flank after scoring in successive games, but as a former Saints player himself, Walcott has been keen to strike up a friendship with Oxlade-Chamberlain.

“I sit next to Theo in the dressing room and he has helped me along, especially when I came in as a new, young lad,” Oxlade-Chamberlain said.

“He knew how I felt coming from Southampton.”