The versatile England international joined the club five years ago and has been used most effectively as a number eight, where he used his dynamism, electric moves and powerful shots to add an all-action presence in the middle ground. He has also played wide and most recently he has featured as a false nine, covering Roberto Firmino and scoring against Burnley in that position.
A number of injuries kept Oxlade-Chamberlain from kicking, with a double knee ligament injury suffered in 2018 against AS Roma in the Champions League semi-finals, an extraordinarily unfortunate setback.
Nonetheless, the 2018 season demonstrated the qualities that make Oxlade-Chamberlain such a dangerous player. In key games against Manchester City, Oxlade-Chamberlain has contributed directly on two occasions, scoring with scorching efforts in both the Premier League and the Champions League. His ability to dribble, drive and attack space is extremely valuable for a team that thrives in offensive transitions and needs to break low blocks as well.
The 2021/22 season may be the occasion for Oxlade-Chamberlain to find its feet, but in a different role. Liverpool no longer use a quirky midfielder in which one of the midfielders is given a loose attacking role as Oxlade-Chamberlain and Philippe Coutinho have been deployed. Instead, one of the eight numbers falls deep in order to provide transition protection for the full-backs and play a more conservative role.
But the departure of Gini Wijnaldum and the brilliant start of Diogo Jota’s career at Liverpool have prompted a change in mentality at Anfield. With one less midfielder and one more winger who deserves to start, Jürgen Klopp should use the 4-2-3-1 formation much more regularly this season.
Klopp regularly used the system to play against low blocks in 2018/19 and 2019/20, and reverted to 4-3-3 for Big League and Champions League games.
Given Roberto Firmino’s tendency over the past few years to sink deeper and deeper and be less involved in goals scored, it makes sense to deploy him as a conventional No 10, rather than a false nine. . Likewise, Oxlade-Chamberlain, with his particular player profile and skills, would also be an option in the number 10 and false nine roles.
“I’m always more focused on the situation in the midfield,” Oxlade-Chamberlain insisted today. “But if I need to fill in and do it, then I’m confident I can do it too. “
Having Oxlade-Chamberlain as a more regular advanced option helps alleviate some of the workload and pressure on teammates. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané are mainstays of the squad, but need a rest, whether it’s a casual game on the bench, or even a 15 or 20 minute reprieve towards the end of a game. With Firmino, each of the two wide players would benefit from Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return at his best.
Liverpool assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders recently praised Oxlade-Chamberlain for his contribution to training, highlighting in particular his ability to score and get involved in and around the area.
“I have to point out that Ox has scored absolute worlds in training the last few days,” Lijnders wrote in one of the preseason diary entries. “And you love to see it!” “
With Oxlade-Chamberlain’s sense of goal, his technical abilities and, most importantly, his pressing skills, he will be an extremely valuable asset to forwards, providing relief to the players around him when he appears from the bench and now the quality of the team when it starts.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s availability will be hugely important to Liverpool’s ability to maintain a campaign for multiple trophies throughout the season. In recent years, the fall of the starting XI on the bench has been significant and has cost the Reds when they chase a game or when key players need a rest. But a great Oxlade-Chamberlain changes that. If he can start games or make 20-30 minute appearances on the bench once a week, the rest of the frontline will be fresh. The fresher the forwards, the more likely the team is to score early and conclude matches, and with this comes the greater likelihood of other rookie players resting, reduced risk of injury and more opportunities for strikes. players like Xherdan Shaqiri and Harvey Elliot turn in too.
Expecting Oxlade-Chamberlain to immediately reach the heights of 2018 would be unfair to him, but he is still a player of phenomenal talent, and the best course of action for Liverpool would be to ease him gently, by managing his charge during the first half of the season and let him gain confidence and form for the game, leading to the Africa Cup of Nations, when Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah will be out.
The most exciting thing about Oxlade-Chamberlain is how different he is from the players around him. His specific and unique player profile will give a new dimension to the team when playing as a number 10 or false nine. His relentless drive to move forward, take on players, attack with speed, combine and break offers a completely different take on the role of Firmino’s deeper and more technical game. This diversity of player profiles gives Liverpool the opportunity to organize themselves in different ways, which gives Klopp the ability to surprise opposition managers, or simply topple opposing teams with new and inventive tactical setups. .
Since 2018, Liverpool have been deprived of a midfield dynamo like Oxlade-Chamberlain – his return can not only be a chance to realize his talents, but also to uplift the players around him.