Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has had a rough few years at Liverpool after an incredibly promising first year was cut short by a catastrophic knee injury that put him on the shelf for 300+ days. Since then he has struggled to stay fit and regain the form that made him nearly undroppable in his debut season for Liverpool.
There are many who believe that this coming year will be the 27-year-old's last chance to prove he has what it takes to contribute to a team with title aspirations. As an added wrinkle, he may need to prove his worth at a new position if this pre-season is any indication of what’s to come.
Manager Jürgen Klopp has been trying him out as another option for the false nine position that Roberto Firmino typically plays. It’s hard to say if the Englishman will be able to make an impact from the more advanced role based on the small sample size we’ve seen so far, or if he will even get a real chance to do so once the matches actually matter.
One thing we do know, however, is that Oxlade-Chamberlain is excited by the prospect of playing the more advanced role and having more opportunities to add his name to the score sheet.
Speaking to the Liverpool FC website after Liverpool’s 4-3 loss to Hertha Berlin tonight, Oxlade-Chamberlain expressed his thoughts and feelings about playing the false nine.
Obviously it’s a new little role up there, which I quite enjoy; it’s similar in ways to how the more advanced midfielder plays in the team. A little bit different defensively, which I’m trying to get used to as well because I think Bobby does it better than anyone in world football. It’s not easy to follow him doing that.
In possession it’s nice, I can pick up nice positions and get on the ball, so I’m enjoying it. If I do play more often in that position, I think my main thing is to contribute with goals because I feel like we create a lot in and around that area and even when I play in midfield in that position – a bit more advanced – I feel like I can score goals.
That’s something I definitely want to be able to bring to the team if I play there. So on that front it’s good. Like I said, I’m still building up and so are we all. We need to keep improving because we’ve definitely got more work to do and more to come.
As someone who has adored Ox from very early on in his LFC career, I can’t help but feel very excited by all of this. I desperately want to see him regain his form and be a regular contributor for this club. He is a fun, wonderful person, and he was a joy to watch before the knee injury that derailed such a promising start.
I know it’s hard to put too much stock into preseason experiments and performances, but it seems like he really may get a shot to deputize for Firmino as a false nine, and it sounds like he is excited and up for the challenge.