How Oxlade-Chamberlain can be like a new signing to Liverpool
When the Liverpool squad regather for the upcoming pre-season camp, they will have a fully-fit Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back in the fold, possibly raring to go from minute one.
Since then, he missed at least nine months of action, with a probability of not being able to play first-team football for another three to four months.
As per the initial prediction, that is what happened and Chamberlain missed the whole of the 2018-19 season, apart from making one appearance off the bench in a Premier League game against Huddersfield in May.
Now with him back and quite evidently raring to start from the scratch, Liverpool and their manager Jurgen Klopp could feel like they have an extra player in the squad for the upcoming season, having managed without him and won the Champions League in the recently-concluded campaign.
Below, we take a look at some of the Englishman’s numbers during his first season at Anfield and conclude why he would be like a “new signing” to the Reds next season:
Ox the boss in the midfield
We all know that when a new player is signed under Jurgen Klopp’s guidance, he takes time to settle into the system of play and the manager also allows him the learning space to grow into his style of play, rather than forcing the issue.
A similar pattern was found when Oxlade-Chamberlain first arrived in Liverpool. He didn’t get a lot of starts till the festive period and was more of a squad player, mostly coming off the bench.
So overall, during the 2017/18 season, the Englishman made 32 league appearances, but only 14 of them were from the start. He scored three goals and provided seven assists, playing in his favoured central midfield position.
Furthermore, with a key pass rate of 1.1, dribble rate of 1.3 and shots per game at an average of 1.2, it was clear that the 25-year-old would be the link between attack and midfield for Liverpool. (Whoscored)
But, the unfortunate injury meant he almost missed the whole of last season, and there were times when Klopp’s men needed someone like him in midfield to break down a stubborn defence.
For example – in games against Leicester City at home and West Ham in London, where a midfield burst and accurate key passing would have opened the door.
So, it won’t be a surprise that the club would be happy to see him back in terms of fitness ahead of a vital pre-season.
From the player’s point of view, he is at the right club at the moment. There was no hesitation from him in admitting that he wanted to play in central midfield when he was at Arsenal (h/t Express). And the Gunners couldn’t provide him with that platform.
For that reason, his numbers in north London weren’t that good (9 goals and 21 assists in 132 league appearances). He was also forced to play the wing role, or operate as a wing-back, which didn’t suit his wish at all.
Thus, having already gained the experience of playing in central midfield for Liverpool and doing well, Oxlade-Chamberlain should be raring to prove his fitness in the coming pre-season and make a huge impact at Anfield next season.
All in all, we can conclude by saying that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Liverpool seemed like a perfect marriage until the former got that long-term injury.
With him back now, expect the Reds to benefit from his power and precision in midfield and make a strong case for winning the league title next season.