By Abhishek Mehrotra
The former Southampton man impressed observers with his fearless performances on the flanks for the Gunners last season, but Wenger restricted him largely to appearances from the bench - an approach for which he was criticised and even booed on one occasion.
But Parlour, who played under Wenger from 1996 to 2004, has backed his former manager's tactic of blooding the 18-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain gradually, citing the injury suffered by Jack Wilshere as a lesson.
"You look at Jack Wilshere. He had a horrendous injury last season and played hardly any games. Wenger would have looked at that and thought 'Maybe we have to go a little slower with Oxlade-Chamberlain. Wilshere had become so important to the team that he played him in every game. And I think that's what resulted in his injury. So Oxlade-Chamberlain will be used a bit slower," he opined in an exclusive interview with ESPNSTAR.com.
Arsenal missed the England international's energy and creativity in the centre of the park, and their prospects weren't helped by a defensive injury crisis that engulfed the team at the beginning of last season. Parlour agreed that a settled back-four would be crucial to their prospects in the new campaign.
"They had injury problems last year - you had [Johan] Djorou playing right-back, [Thomas] Vermaelen at left-back," he said
"It's now time for Kieran Gibbs and [Andre] Santos to try to make the left-back position their own. Gibbs has every chance of taking that spot next year. At right-back you have Sagna who's a very experienced player. You do need a bit of luck through the season, so that you don't get injuries in vital positions. It'd be interesting to see the back-four. If you can get a solid back four you always have a chance of winning the game.
"I really liked [Laurent] Koscielny - I think he's improved a lot as a player. And I like the Vermaelen and Koscielny partnership at centre-half."
With the departure of the long-serving Pat Rice, former defender Steve Bould has filled the position of assistant manager. Bould played 287 games for Arsenal at centre-back and Parlour was hopeful his former teammate's presence would further bolster Arsenal's defensive set-up.
"Steve Bould is a fantastic guy, a fantastic and a very underrated player. He's got great knowledge about the defence and about football in general. I'm sure he'll do a great job. He'll help Arsene Wenger with that back-four if he has to and the rest of the team as well.
Although he stopped short of saying Arsenal would definitely contend for the title, Parlour remains hopeful the Gunners' title drought will come to an end soon.
"I'm always optimistic, I always hope they do well. They've got to compete with Manchester City who'll be strong again. Manchester United will be trying to win their title back as well, and [we'll see] whether Chelsea can improve [on their sixth-place finish last season], although I don't think they can," claimed the former Gunner.
Finally, Parlour gave a ringing endorsement to Wenger himself, stressing that the Frenchman continues to be the right man to lead Arsenal forward.
"I think he's a fantastic manager. A lot has changed at Arsenal over the last few years - the new stadium, the resources have been a little lower, but I think he's done a wonderful job and in my opinion, I would stick with him - definitely," signed off the 39-year-old.