When Liverpool signed him from Arsenal for £35 million, the plan was for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s gifts and potential to find true expression under Jürgen Klopp’s liberating influence, and for the England midfielder to make a convincing case for himself in the middle of the park. It may yet still play out that way, but suffice to say it has been a muted start to Oxlade-Chamberlain’s career as a Liverpool player.
Gunners boss Arsène Wenger recently expressed a sentiment that might seem to be shared by a more cynical segment of Liverpool’s supporters, albeit for completely different reasons: Kieran Gibbs’ departure for West Bromwich Albion hurt Arsenal more than losing Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool.
“Ideally you want stability and you want players who carry the values for the generations,” said Wenger. “Overall it's true that with Gibbs (it hurt) more than Chamberlain because he had been educated at Arsenal from [a young age].”
As a reminder, Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Arsenal as a teenager after helping Southampton (back in the days before they were Liverpool’s most frequent summer dance partner) win promotion to the Championship, while Gibbs moved to Arsenal’s academy when Wimbledon FC went into administration. It’s hardly surprising that Wenger, always an outspoken advocate of the Gunners’ youth setup, would place some weight on coming up through the ranks.
“(Academy players) carry the values that you think are important, which are based on mental qualities, humility, respect and commitment, and as well football qualities which means you always try to play in a positive way,” said Wenger in advance of Arsenal’s match with West Brom. “Plus real team play and focusing on a collective way.”
It’s not meant to be a burn, but perhaps it just feels that way.