Thiago Alcantara is unlikely to feature for Liverpool against Newcastle United. Jurgen Klopp is desperate to see the Spaniard back but will not risk him at St James’ Park. The availability of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain makes this easier for the manager.
Thiago will return soon, it seems. Klopp says he is back in full training with teammates making his selection imminent.
Having joined from Bayern Munich in September, Thiago can finally add to the 135 minutes of action he has clocked up since his £20 million [BBC] move.
Until then, Klopp will have to look elsewhere for midfield options. Oxlade-Chamberlain makes this process easier.
The 27-year-old has come off the bench during Liverpool’s previous two matches, after all. He offers the team something unique and his qualities can be utilised against Newcastle.
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Oxlade-Chamberlain hasn’t started for Liverpool since July. With that said, it’s about time Klopp utilised him from the start.
Compared to Liverpool’s other midfielders, Oxlade-Chamberlain is by a distance, the most direct in the team. This could be useful against a team like Newcastle.
Last season, he had more dribbles per 90 (4.07) than all of Liverpool’s midfielders combined. When on the ball, he is unpredictable and is always looking to get on the front foot.
This was lacking against West Brom. Despite dominating 79 per cent of the ball, Liverpool managed just two shots on target. This is a poor return and something Oxlade-Chamberlain can improve.
In just eight minutes against the Baggies, Oxlade-Chamberlain had two shots and made one key pass. He was constantly trying to make things happen.
As such, it makes him a viable option to come into the team against Newcastle. Liverpool cannot afford to be as passive and lethargic as they were against West Brom. Starting Oxlade-Chamberlain reduces that risk.
Out of all of Liverpool’s midfielders, Oxlade-Chamberlain offers the most bite going forward. Against a team that is likely to set-up to frustrate and absorb pressure, he could inject some much-needed quality.
This will appeal to Klopp given what he witnessed at home to West Brom. Rotation is key and Oxlade-Chamberlain would add a sense of unpredictability.
Liverpool fans may have to wait for Thiago. But in Oxlade-Chamberlain, there are still returning midfielders worth getting excited about.