Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could have an interesting role in a new-look Liverpool team. The Reds aren’t quite the same as before.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has never had a clearly defined role in the Liverpool team. At his best, he was the dynamic, direct midfielder that allowed Liverpool to press high and break quickly from midfield.
He’d run with the ball, run without the ball but always looking to hit the final third and make something happen.
At his worst, Oxlade-Chamberlain just didn’t look like a fit. He was too attacking and not quite versatile enough between central midfield roles.
We say ‘was’ because Oxlade-Chamberlain hasn’t played this season. And the Liverpool of this season isn’t quite the same as last year.
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Fundamentally, it’s the same Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp was never entirely changing from such a successful system, after all.
But the Reds are different this year. They’re not as solid at the back, a little more chaotic and, at times, play a new formation.
And as Oxlade-Chamberlain prepares to return from injury, he might like the look of that. He suits a game that’s more attack-driven and less controlled. He suits a team that looks to out-score opponents rather than keep things comfortable.
Above all, the £35m signing suits a team that switches between 4-3-3 and 4-2-4.
We know what Oxlade-Chamberlain offers in the middle, as we said above. He showed it best before his injury in 2018 as the Reds assaulted the Champions League.
That was a time when Liverpool didn’t have Fabinho in midfield, nor Alisson in goal. They were far more erratic. A little like now, then.
4-2-4 suits him as well. Oxlade-Chamberlain can play either wide role or perhaps the more withdrawn in the middle. That last one is arguable, we’ll admit.
The big thing, though, is that he can play those roles and comfortably move back into midfield if Klopp changes the system. The boss doesn’t have many players with that flexibility.
With the 4-2-4 he played against Manchester City, the front quartet were all forwards. Klopp needed to swap one out if he wanted to revert to 4-3-3.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, then, could fit in wonderfully well when he’s fit. Fingers crossed that’s sooner rather than later.