The Liverpool Echo reports that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could return in March. What exactly does that mean for Jurgen Klopp’s league leaders?
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury against AS Roma last season was clear to see. Liverpool just about eased through that match but struggled in the return leg.
Then, against Real Madrid in the final, the Reds didn’t look anything like the side that tore Porto, Manchester City and Roma apart.
Similarly, Liverpool have struggled in the Champions League, while two games against City brought one point.
And that is why the return of Oxlade-Chamberlain this season is key.
Oxlade-Chamberlain could return to face Bayern
The Echo’s report suggests he could feature away at Bayern Munich in March. Now, we need to see how the first leg goes but even having him as an option could be vital.
The eight Premier League games that follow the fixture could use him, too. Liverpool’s run to the final last season saw the energy taken out of their domestic games.
They were played at a lower pace, while Klopp rested key players when the opportunity arose.
If Liverpool want to fight on two fronts – and you’d like to think they do – then a return for Oxlade-Chamberlain gives them that energy.
Two fixtures stand out when you look at those eight, though: Tottenham and Chelsea at Anfield. Both are huge games against top sides and Oxlade-Chamberlain thrived on that last year.
He was arguably the best player on the pitch in the 3-0 win over City, while he gives drive to the midfield that it sorely lacks in those gams. Liverpool were flat away at Paris Saint-Germain this season and in both league games against City.
Naby Keita has stuttered this season, failing to replace Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield. That has left Liverpool with a midfield that may work hard but rarely penetrates through other teams.
It’s too early to think about replacing Keita but Oxlade-Chamberlain can fill his own void on return.
Perhaps having the Englishman back could reduce some of the pressure on Keita, however.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is recovering from a serious knee injury and it’s important not to expect too much individually. But simply having him in the squad gives Klopp new options that could prove indispensable for the run in.