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Klopp Hails the Versatile Oxlade-Chamberlain

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gives Jürgen Klopp options as the ex-Arsenal man can feature in the midfield as well as the wings.

England v Lithuania - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

There hasn’t been very much time for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to get comfortable at Liverpool since signing on deadline day. At the time the deal went through the ex-Arsenal player was already off on England duty and he’s only completed two training sessions with the team since first arriving at Melwood on Thursday. The man they call the Ox looks to be a character who integrates quickly into a group, giving that he appears to have a relaxed temperament and willingness to not take himself too seriously. No, I’ve never been a behavior expert. But I’ve recently watched some videos on the internet and now I am.

“He is a very good football player,” said Klopp, jokingly stating the obvious to the room full of questioners at today’s pre-Manchester City press conference.

“He is good in small spaces, really good in big spaces. Good dribbler, good passer. A lot of things I really like. And that means you want to have him on the pitch as often as possible.”

One of the appeals of Ox in this team is his versatility. He is a midfielder but spent a great deal of his time at Arsenal as a wide player or wingback. So, he could potentially fill in at left back in certain circumstances, come in for Sadio Mané or Mohamed Salah or mix it up with Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and others in the center of the pitch.

“He fits really well in the squad,” Klopp added. “And that means he immediately fits really well in different line-ups.

“In the system we play in the moment he can play four positions: both number eights and both wingers.

“We play in a specific way and we want to use him in these positions.”

Inevitability, wherever Oxlade-Chamberlain plays, expect him to get forward. He’s quick and his time as a Gunner has prepared him for the fast-paced, counter-attacking play of Klopp’s Liverpool. Just don’t expect it to all happen so soon. A spot on the bench in Manchester is likely the best the young Englishman can hope for this weekend as it will take time for him to acclimate to the wild and crazy ways of the full pitch press.

“He (Ox) is a wonderful player but he needs to adapt to how we play,” said Klopp. “We play different than Arsenal. Not better, not worse, just different.

“He had the session yesterday, we had a session today and tomorrow we play. So, it doesn’t make too much sense.”

Still, it would be nice to get him a run out if/when Liverpool are up by three or so.