Going into the new season, Liverpool fans have every right to be excited. Summer business has been handled well and Jurgen Klopp’s feel good factor is still around the club.
However, along with these positives comes a huge negative for Liverpool. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss most of this season. After a slow start last year, the Ox grew into his central midfield role well and became one of Liverpool’s star men before picking up a lengthy injury against Roma in the Champions League.
With Chamberlain out for most of the season, lets see what he brought to Liverpool last season and whether he can be replaced adequately in the Liverpool midfield.
With Klopp playing a 4-3-3 system here are the players Chamberlain will most likely be in competition with in the midfield three. Adam Lallana is another but due to his lack of games last season due to injury, he wasn’t used in the comparison.
Over the years at Arsenal, one thing that Chamberlain was criticised for was his end product. However, last season, once he found his rhythm at Liverpool he became very efficient as he was the midfielder given the license to roam forward.
This saw him bring a decent return in terms of end product as you can see he almost doubled Naby Keita’s assist tally. However, Keita proved to be a bigger goalscoring threat. Whether he can bring that goalscoring form to Anfield will be interesting to see.
With Keita more accustomed to this role he was also able to create more chances. However, when looking at the minutes played you can see Chamberlain was very efficient in the chances he made which turned into assists more often.
Another aspect of Chamberlain’s game Liverpool may miss is how he is able to drive up the pitch. Sometimes unplayable in midfield last season this was in part thanks to the way he could burst past players which is reflected his 79% take on success. Although Gini Wijnaldum is close to that with 75% he lacks the presence that Chamberlain has in midfield.
Despite Chamberlain being a loss, Liverpool can still be encouraged going into the new season.
If anything, with Chamberlain injured, this allows a more Klopp-type player to come into the side in Keita.
With Klopp wanting his team to win the ball high up the pitch with gegenpressing, Keita is a much better option in this light. As you can see above, his defensive numbers eclipse both Chamberlain and Wijnaldum’s and should see him fit into Klopp’s midfield three well and allow Liverpool to counter attack more often with great effect.
Overall, Chamberlain will be a big miss but it won’t the end of the world for Liverpool. There are more options in midfield compared to last season who should add to the Liverpool starting 11. If things go well for the likes of Keita in the midfield three this season then to add a more attacking threat on the ball we may see both him and Chamberlain at some point when the former Arsenal man is back fit.