Once can be considered a fluke, twice and your luck may be in, but three times and any sort of reasonable doubt goes flying out the window. These are the numbers that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain boasts when his name is on the starting XI against Manchester City.
The European champions have only won three of their previous eight matches against the Premier League holders and it isn’t a coincidence that the England international was present from the off in each of those three victories.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, 26, has been in irresistible form heading into the Red’s biggest match of the season so far and it’s no wonder that supporters are calling for the former Arsenal man to start on Sunday.
The former Southampton academy prospect has proven in the past that he can be the cog to unlock City’s cloak of vulnerability with two piledrivers from outside the box to send Liverpool on their way to vital victories on separate occasions.
In fact, Oxlade-Chamberlain has a 100 per cent record against the Citizens during matches in which he has started for the Reds. No other Liverpool player comes close to this outrageous statistic and this shouldn’t be something that Jurgen Klopp looks beyond too easily.
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In the previous two league encounters against Pep Guardiola’s side, Liverpool really failed to take the game towards their title opponents. If you compare them to those three consecutive victories from January – April 2018, the style of play is conclusively different.
Liverpool’s success against City has come when the Reds have been on the front foot from the off. The Citizens are prone to collapsing when their style of play becomes disrupted such as against Norwich and Wolves.
However, history has shown that the biggest matches can be defined by the smallest of margins. Last season, Liverpool only found the net on one occasion against City following one of the Red’s goals of the season after Roberto Firmino tucked home an equaliser.
But Klopp and his team cannot rely on style and substance to get them over the line come Sunday. Liverpool have won four of their previous five matches by the scoreline 2-1. They are grinding out results rather than dominating opponents.
The German manager has previously labelled this team ‘mentality monsters’. His team always find a way to win. They found their way past a stubborn Genk side on Wednesday and it was Oxlade-Chamberlain to deliver the vital blow.
History would suggest the Liverpool No.15 already knows the blueprints to get past this City machine. Come Sunday, Klopp may be kicking himself if he doesn’t use them.