Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was one of those signings where everybody in world football looked at Liverpool and thought “here we go again”. He’s English, expensive and has barely kicked a ball for the last few seasons. The money – fee ratio was one that many people believed would be a complete disaster, but after a difficult start at Anfield he is proving to be worth it. The way Chamberlain slots into Jurgen Klopp’s midfield three is perfect and it’s hard to see him not starting alongside Naby Keita next season.
What does he offer?
The kind of balance that he now offers the team is perfect. Chamberlain possesses speed, great passing and the ability to rotate with our front three too. Over the course of this season, he has averaged 59.29 minutes a game this year which is not a very high number. Yet the results he has produced in this time are very impressive. He has averaged 6.42 dribbles per game and at a 73.7% completion rate. Which is more than any other player in the Liverpool midfield right now. Naby Keita, arriving in the summer, averages 7.56 dribbles per game at 68.8% completion. That shows the standards that he has been keeping to this season and an advantage of his early days as a winger.
He also has a great link-up with Mohamed Salah too. On Saturday he completed his 5th assist to Liverpool’s deadly hitman which is a high for Liverpool’s squad this year. As soon as Firmino and Chamberlain came on it was clear that Mohamed Salah had his tail up. They both arrived on 66 minutes and by the 72nd minute it was 2-0 and it was Chamberlain who provided the assist.
For the goal, you can see the impact the two players have on the team. As soon as Roberto Firmino turns in the middle of the pitch you can see Salah take off towards goal and Chamberlain make himself available. Chamberlain gets the ball and suddenly the West Brom defence doesn’t know where to look. They’re in fear of Chamberlain beating them and getting into dangerous areas. Salah and Firmino are making direct runs and forcing them to back off. By the time they realise the danger, it’s way too late. Salah is dropping into space and Chamberlain has the vision and the quality to play him in behind.
Liverpool’s Midfield Weakness
It’s well known that Liverpool’s midfield is their biggest weakness. Although the likes of Milner and Wijnaldum have the energy in our midfield they lack the quality at times that can take Liverpool to the next level. Keita will be a big addition to the team and he will add something we lack at times. If Liverpool can add a quality 6 into the team then it is hard to spot any real weaknesses that other teams can exploit next season. There would be a mixture of pace, vision, aggression and most importantly quality.
Jurgen Klopp has done a magnificent job so far in changing this Liverpool team and making them look a great side. To bring them to a Champions League semi-final when the squad is nowhere near to its full potential is remarkable. He has added quality to the defence with Van Dijk and Robertson along with introducing Alexander Arnold into the fray. He’s also either bought or redeveloped the front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, who have been unbelievable. If the squad can keep this team as it is and add even better players to the first eleven then the only way is up for Liverpool.