The Arsenal winger talks to FourFourTwo ahead of the Gunners trip to Australia and explains why pre-season can be the launch pad for your best season yet.
How important is pre-season in getting you ready for the new campaign?
Having those six weeks before the start of the season are important for getting the team working well together so that you can hit the ground running. As an individual and collectively as a team you need to get as fit and sharp as possible for the start of the season.
Do you set yourself personal goals?
You don't set yourself goals in pre-season, other than getting yourself as fit as possible, so that you're ready to go for the start of the season. Once the season starts you start setting goals. Pre-season is mainly about making sure you're fit and prepared as you can be. All the players at Arsenal understand the standards that have been set from last season so we know what is expected of us.
How important is pre-season for gelling the team together and getting to know the new players?
When a club brings in new players during pre-season it's vital for them to have a few weeks to get to know their team-mates, what the manager expects and to settle in.
What would you say to an amateur player who was struggling to get motivated for pre-season?
The harder you work in pre-season, the easier it will make your life come the start of the season. If you're fitter than everyone else, you can run harder, faster and longer. A good pre-season will mean you're physically and mentally prepared - giving you an advantage over your opponents.
What tips would you give a young player who wanted to improve their dribbling speed?
My youth team coaches used to say to me, "The ball is your friend don't lose him", and "Keep your head up". This advice has served me well. When you're running at speed with the ball at your feet you want to be able to see what's going on around you so that you can make the right decisions. You can practice dribbling anywhere - on the street, in the garden - taking the ball around poles, bushes, cones. The more familiar you are with the ball, the better.
Official fangear is available at rebel. Arsenal are set to play back-to-back blockbusters in 2017 against Sydney FC on Thursday 13 July at ANZ Stadium and Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday 15 July at the same venue.