Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be part of a new plan this season. Jurgen Klopp used the Liverpool midfielder in a different position on Tuesday.
Liverpool’s pre-season friendlies are always an interesting watch. Jurgen Klopp typically tries new things, be it tactics or personel.
Perhaps we get a glimpse at an up-and-coming youngster who could make the senior side next season. But maybe we see the start of a new plan that shifts things around.
We certainly saw plenty of youngsters on Tuesday but we also got the latter. It appears Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be at the heart of a new Liverpool plan.
The Oxlade-Chamberlain plan
We’ve had reports in the last few weeks that Liverpool want to try something new with Oxlade-Chamberlain. Namely, they see him as more of a no.10 or winger than centre-mid next season.
That’s according to the Liverpool Echo, anyway. Though, Tuesday suggested they’re right.
But only half-right. Oxlade-Chamberlain did sort of play as a no.10 but he did it from the centre-forward spot. In other words, he played as a False 9.
It’s an interesting idea and one that does mesh well with others. Oxlade-Chamberlain is very comfortable dropping deep in midfield, after all, and operating in that space.
The wide players then run into the space he leaves behind, as they do when Roberto Firmino plays there.
But Oxlade-Chamberlain offers a different style of False 9 to Firmino. He’s more direct with the ball, happier to run in behind, and is a little more comfortable drifting wide. Now, he’s simply not as good on the ball as the Brazilian but few forwards are, nor can he match the pressing.
As an alternative False 9, though, Oxlade-Chamberlain feels like a good fit. It reminds us of a trial back in 2019 where Jurgen Klopp used the £35m man in a role like this.
Oxlade-Chamberlain effectively played as a forward that day but with far more emphasis on the midfield. It was a striker-less formation, in truth, though the player was more advanced than most.
And we liked it. It worked well, with some great movement and running between the lines. We’re set to see more of it, too, it seems.
Oxlade-Chamberlain might not be on Firmino’s level but as an alternative? That seems like a good fit. It’s Liverpool getting the most out of their squad and using a player in an interesting but sensible way.
One of the Reds’ biggest problems is not having a reasonable False 9 replacement for Firmino. In Oxlade-Chamberlain, though, they might have their man.