Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Wants to 'Add That Little Bit Extra' to Liverpool

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2019

MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: Alex Oxlade Chamberlain of Liverpool warms up ahead of the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Mk Dons and Liverpool FC at Stadium MK on September 25, 2019 in Milton Keynes, England. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain believes he can give Liverpool the necessary boost to help the club outlast their rivals in this season's Premier League title race.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has outlined his ambition to get back into the starting XI after a lengthy injury layoff. The former Arsenal midfielder missed almost all of the 2018/19 campaign recovering from a knee injury and subsequent surgery.

He returned in April as a substitute against Huddersfield Town, and Chamberlain told Chris Shaw of Liverpool's official website how he can be a bigger factor this season: "For me, off the back of what the boys achieved last season, it's: can I add that little bit extra, can I add a little bit more to help us as a squad?"

Getting more specific about exactly how he can help, the 26-year-old outlined the qualities he brings to Liverpool's game in the middle of the park: "It's on me to try to bring a little something: run with the ball, link the play and fit in with the rhythm of the boys up front to help them. What they achieved last year was extraordinary."

Oxlade-Chamberlain called finishing a point adrift of champions Manchester City "heartbreaking." However, he remains focused on getting "back in and around the team."

He has made just five appearances, including two starts, in Liverpool's eight games in the league. Oxlade-Chamberlain missed the recent 2-1 win over Leicester City that extended the Anfield club's lead at the top to eight points before the international break:

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Becoming a fixture in Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp's starting XI will be a tall order for Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Reds rely on a solid and complementary trio to man the engine room in the form of Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson.

Brazil international Fabinho is the natural anchor, a terrific holding player with the technique to launch moves from deep, as well as the tenacity to shield the defence. Wijnaldum is the underrated link from defence through the middle to the prolific front three of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.

Meanwhile, Henderson is the workhorse who usually leads the Liverpool press with his industry and stamina.

It doesn't look like there's a natural place for Oxlade-Chamberlain, but he is confident he offers an intriguing alternative to the established starters: "I think I can definitely bring my qualities and provide something different to the other boys in my position."

It's true Oxlade-Chamberlain possesses the skill and vision to provide some creative flair from the advanced areas of midfield. Liverpool have lacked those qualities since Philippe Coutinho was sold to Barcelona in the winter of 2018.

The absence of a natural creator has increased the onus on Firmino to provide the artistry. His success as a playmaker only ostensibly acting as a centre-forward has meant the Reds haven't missed a player of Coutinho's type too much.

Liverpool also have Naby Keita, Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri who could offer more guile in support of Salah and Co. Shaqiri has already bemoaned a lack of playing time.

Oxlade-Chamberlain's best chance of getting in the team may be as a rotational option who lets Klopp rest a member of his marquee front three. Either way, his availability underlines the improved squad depth that could prove the difference in another scrap with City for the title.