Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain still hoping to end up a central midfielder

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain says his "main ambition" is still to play as a central midfielder, even though the Arsenal player is enjoying his recent success as a wing-back.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has been one of Arsenal's best players since Arsene Wenger switched to a back-three formation and he was redeployed as a right wing-back -- having played both as a winger and central midfielder earlier this season.

Now he is in contention to reprise the role in Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea after recovering from a hamstring injury that kept him out of Arsenal's last two Premier League games.

But while the England international has been widely praised for his wing-back performances, his heart remains set on proving himself in the middle of the pitch.

"I've spoken to the manager a few times and that's where he says he sees me ending up," he told reporters. "And on a personal level I really enjoy playing in midfield. And the time I played there this year I enjoyed it and thought, this is where I want to be able to play moving forward.

"So yeah, maybe that is my main ambition to end up playing there. But I think it's a tricky one to nail me down to one position still. Because my attributes, they do go hand in hand with playing out wide as well. And I think it just depends what the best fit for the team is. But I think long-term, I'd hope that I end up playing more central."

Oxlade-Chamberlain's best position has been the subject of many debates over the past few years. Wenger has said his pace and dribbling ability are more naturally suited for the wing, but that the player has the vision and passing ability to be a central midfielder.

As for being a wing-back, Oxlade-Chamberlain said he has studied both Chelsea and Tottenham's games to learn the correct positioning, but that it came pretty natural given his previous experience.

"I've obviously played more out wide in my career at Arsenal over the years," he said. "And I don't think this role is too dissimilar because even when we're asked to play right wing, we're still expected to get back and defend against your full-back.

"So I think it's not too dissimilar to what I've been doing over the years, and it gives me a different challenge as well and a slightly different focus. And I've really enjoyed it in the short space of time I've played it."

Even though he's back fit, Oxlade-Chamberlain now faces tough competition for a starting spot in Saturday's final from Hector Bellerin, who has excelled in the role over the past two games.

But Oxlade-Chamberlain is desperate for a starting role, having seen injuries ruin his chances to play in Arsenal's previous two FA Cup final victories.

In 2014, he was not even in the matchday squad after just recently returning from a groin problem, while in 2015, he was on the bench and came on for the final few minutes after another late-season injury.

"It's a bit of a trend isn't it? When it happened again I thought, 'oh no, here we go again,'" he said. "It was disappointing for the last few years to pick up injuries so close to the end of the season and when push comes to shove, to sort of get left out.

"When I picked up this injury I tried to attack the ground running as quick as I could and set out a plan that gave me the best opportunity to put myself in contention. I've carried that out and I spoke to the manager about my return to play and he was happy with it. So that's all I can do.

"I'd love to start the game and play the whole game. But team selection is tough. Hector has been doing really well. Who knows, I could play elsewhere, I'm not sure. That's up to the boss. But as long as the team that goes out there puts in everything and gets the right end result, I'll be just as happy as every single other Arsenal player and fan in the stadium."

For Arsenal, Saturday's final is the last chance to salvage a disappointing season that saw them finish fifth in the Premier League -- the first time in 20 years they've missed out on a Champions League spot.

Oxlade-Chamberlain said the FA Cup would certainly make this "a better season" -- even though the disappointment from earlier failures remain.

"The season has been an odd one, and if you look at the table now, I think we finished on 75 points," he said. "In other years that might have left us in a different situation. But times change and you've got to move forward with the other top teams, and we failed to do that in the league ultimately this year. That's why we missed out on the top four.

"But we've given ourselves an opportunity to win a trophy. And when you're in football, winning trophies is what it's all about. So it will obviously be a bonus to the season to finish on a more positive note.

"There will always be that thing where we wanted to finish higher up in the league, there's no doubting that and we can't hide from that and we need to own up to that. But it's a big trophy and it's one that we want to win, and it will definitely boost morale going into next season."