By 90Min
November 03, 2019

Liverpool have won ten times and drawn once in their first eleven matches of the 2019/20 Premier League season, opening up a six-point lead over title rivals Manchester City at this early stage.

The Reds have performed at an astonishing level, with all areas of the team looking composed and settled at this moment in time. They've even proven they can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat - a true sign of champions.

Though while Jurgen Klopp's men are clearly in a strong position to challenge for the league and defend their Champions League crown, this isn't to say that minor cracks haven't begun to show. 

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The Anfield side were expected to steamroll their fierce rivals Manchester United in their own backyard recently, but were only able to come away from the match with a point. United, in fact, took the lead through Marcus Rashford and appeared to be heading for victory until Adam Lallana struck late to rescue his side. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a number of tactical adjustments for the game, notably switching to a back five in order to block the spaces. Klopp's men were forced to break down a resolute defence, but they were unable to as there was a distinct lack of creativity. 

That game saw Joel Matip - the centre-back - play more passes through to Roberto Firmino than both Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum combined. This statistic perfectly reaffirms this lack of incisiveness. 

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There were a number of worrying statistics similar to this one that surfaced after the draw with United. Nonetheless, Liverpool returned to winning ways only a matter of days later as they overcame Genk in the Champions League - but there was a noticeable difference. 

A midfielder bagged a brace. That man? Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

The Englishman missed all but 19 minutes of the 2018/19 campaign, as he continued his recovery from a serious knee injury he picked up against Roma in the Champions League in April 2018.

As a result, he has had to be patient and take his chance when given the opportunity, which is certainly what he did against Genk. Two stunning strikes from range, one of which was a delightful strike with the outside of his right boot, to help his side ease past their counterparts. 

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Due to this fine performance, many believed he deserved a starting berth in the club's recent clashes with Tottenham and Aston Villa, but he was relegated to the bench on both occasions.

Ok, yes, the midfield is settled and the attack is a given if all are fit, but the former Arsenal man has proven on countless occasions that he can bring something to the team that is quite clearly lacking at this moment in time: goals from midfield. And he did this again last Wednesday in the Carabao Cup, with another wonder strike - this time against his former employers. 

In the 2017/18 season, Oxlade-Chamberlain featured in 32 games in the league, contributing three goals and seven assists in that time. And if given the opportunity now, he is showing that he has the capacity to improve upon this tally. 

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So, how would he fit in?

Well, in that season, he played as part of the midfield three, with Jordan Henderson occupying the defensive midfield slot. However, with Fabinho making that position his own, it would have to be either Wijnaldum or Henderson who would have to make way for Oxlade-Chamberlain.

There is no denying that both players are workaholics, but in the system the team plays, they lack creativity and this could potentially be a cause for concern in the long-run for Klopp. In the league so far, captain Henderson has scored just the solitary goal this season, while his key passing and assist numbers leave a lot to be desired.

Wijnaldum has also only scored once and has zero assists, too.

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It's time for a change. Defensively, Oxlade-Chamberlain has worked under Klopp for long enough to understand the need for a tireless work-rate, and while it may appear ludicrous to some, the 26-year-old deserves a run in the first-team. The club's captain could and should be the man to make way.

With the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool are not short of leaders and this change could give the Reds another dimension. Klopp recognises Oxlade-Chamberlain's strengths and encourages him to get forward and support the attack, allowing him to pick up goalscoring positions. 

His introduction to the team would see Wijnaldum drop a touch deeper to accommodate for this change, but the Ox will be required to immediately get back into position and bolster the midfield numbers after an attack.


The reason he will be able to do this is because of his energy and running power. The player is constantly looking to harry defenders when out of position, and he is looking to drive forward and make things happen when on the ball. This is something that Henderson cannot do quite as well as his fellow countryman.

Liverpool are at their most dangerous when Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are high up the pitch and influencing the game, and introducing Oxlade-Chamberlain into the team could certainly benefit the full-backs. With his energy and speed, he has the ability and capacity to cover for Alexander-Arnold, allowing him to get further up the pitch and have a greater impact.

This isn't to say that Henderson - or the whole Liverpool midfield - doesn't do this, but it is these marginal gains that can prove to be the difference for the Reds this season.

The Englishman can be a major asset to Klopp and if the correct tactical adjustments are made, his side will be even more frightening than they already are. 

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