Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be the decisive figure against Manchester City on Sunday. The midfielder will define how Liverpool play.
Jurgen Klopp has two real choices for the game. He could attack City and go for the victory knowing that would nearly end the title race. Or, instead, he could play things safe and deny City any chance of cutting the lead.
It’s an enormous decision and one that could decide things, come the end of the season.
We know that the defence and attack will be the same regardless of Klopp’s decision. The midfield, however, will show his intentions.
And that will come down to Oxlade-Chamberlain as if Klopp wants to hurt City, he should play.
The £35m signing is in fine form, scoring three times in two games against Genk, as well as one against Arsenal. We also know Oxlade-Chamberlain can hurt City, having scored that brilliant goal two years ago in an all-round great performance.
But with that attacking intention comes a riskier approach. Jordan Henderson, who would surely otherwise play, can be trusted to sit and plug midfield gaps, cover for Trent Alexander-Arnold, and frustrate City.
And so, if Klopp wants to leave City with little to work with, Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum will surely play either side of Fabinho.
This is Klopp’s biggest decision of the season and one he must get right. The victory hangs there, bright and alluring – the sense that Liverpool can all-but-win the title on Sunday.
But it’s important not to be blinded by that. Liverpool have spent the last few months building up a wonderful lead and they won’t want to risk losing that.
Klopp is in an unenviable position but it really comes down to this – Oxlade-Chamberlain or not?