Jurgen Klopp finds solution to solving Liverpool's injury crisis in Brighton draw

Liverpool are facing another injury crisis with four midfielders on the sidelines, but Jurgen Klopp can turn to Anfield’s forgotten man to solve his problems

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Jurgen Klopp reviews Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Brighton

For the first time in three years, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It was not a happy afternoon overall for Liverpool. After taking a two-goal lead against Brighton, Jurgen Klopp’s side failed to win for only the sixth time from such a position to draw 2-2 with Brighton at Anfield.

And it could have been worse.

But in a game where there were few positives, Jurgen Klopp would have been quietly pleased to see Oxlade-Chamberlain emerge unscathed with the look a shiny new signing.

It has been a long and tiring journey back to match fitness for the 28-year-old, but he finally got his chance to demonstrate just what he has achieved with his hard work on the training ground.

First and foremost, one could assume he would be grateful just to be working within the Liverpool squad, rather than watching them play at home on his television, after his troubles.

Jurgen Klopp watched his Liverpool side squander a two-goal lead against Brighton

Liverpool were already a goal up against Brighton when Naby Keita, for the third time in as many matches, was forced off with an injury after just 19 minutes. The swiftness in which Jurgen Klopp prepared the substitution suggested he may have known prior to the game the Guinean was already nursing a problem.

The irony was probably not lost in Oxlade-Chamberlain that, while his team-mate was coming off with his latest injury, he was fit and firing.

With James Milner, Fabinho and Harvey Elliott also sidelined, there would surely be no better time for the Reds man to stake his claim for a run in the side.

And for Oxlade-Chamberlain, he would feel he made his case after providing a sensational assist for the second Liverpool goal — a cross Trent Alexander-Arnold would be jealous of.

With a quick burst of pace in the right channel, he looked up to see Sadio Mane at the far post behind Shane Duffy. The cross was perfectly weighted and directed, with the pace enough to deceive Duffy.

And as Mane headed home, the crowd erupted into cheers and applause — and perhaps some were reserved especially for the man affectionately known as “Ox” on Merseyside.

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has the opportunity to regain his starting spot at Liverpool

It was a special moment for the 28-year-old, who has had enough injuries for a player long retired, rather than one entering his prime.

After all, it was only three years ago that he was one of the first names on the teamsheet at Anfield. That was until he sustained a serious knee injury against Roma in the Champions League in May 2018.

In damaging his cruciate ligament, Oxlade-Chamberlain missed an entire year of action before returning for Liverpool in their title-winning season in 2019-20, where he made 30 appearances in an incident-free campaign.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain suffered a serious knee injury against Roma in 2018

Then, another knee injury wrecked his season in 2020-21, keeping him out for six months and when he returned, few could blame Klopp for easing him back into the action with 11 of his 13 appearances coming from the bench that season.

But Chamberlain had kept himself fit heading into pre-season and, at last, would get the chance to put the hard hours in on the training ground. It was no surprise when in a pre-season victory over Osasuna, he was one of the standout performers.

“[We] played really good in midfield, Ox was on fire obviously, Fabinho controlled together with the boys out there,” Klopp said back in August.

“The counter-pressing situations with especially now Bobby and Oxlade was just really good and how it should be.”

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was complimentary about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in pre-season

When asked about Oxlade-Chamberlain’s situation, Klopp said he appreciated that like any player, the midfielder needed to work on rebuilding his fitness across the summer months.

“It was clear what the thing is – he needed a full pre-season,” Klopp said back in August.

His frustration was clear to see when he spoke about his future in back in May, explaining how his lack of first-team opportunities only made him hungrier to get back in the side.

“I’ve felt pretty good for a while now, but for whatever reason it’s not been so easy with opportunities,” Oxlade-Chamberlain told LFC TV.

“Sometimes that’s part of football, it’s not what you like. I’ve been kicking myself, trying to push and ask questions, but sometimes it doesn’t always go your way.

“The main thing is I stay focused. I’m absolutely delighted to be a part of this team and play for this football club, and that’s what I want to do.

“That’s all I’ve been focusing on really, trying to make sure that I work as hard as I can for the boys. Keep training well, keep giving the manager decisions to make, as the other lads have in a similar position to me at the minute.”

And those comments rang true as he put in an energetic performance in the Liverpool engine room, carrying the ball forward and making himself available for his team-mates.

The Reds’ unusual second-half collapse had little to do with him, with Enock Mwepu and Leandro Trossard striking in the second half to earn a deserved point for the Seagulls. If anything, he forced his way into Klopp’s thinking by being one of the bright sparks while Mohamed Salah had a rare off day.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has proved his fitness on the training ground

There were murmurs that the German boss would be willing to sanction a January exit for Oxlade-Chamberlain in order to allow him to get more football, either temporarily or permanently.

But with three midfielders already out, Keita’s injury may have thrown a spanner in the works for any interested parties.

Oxlade-Chamberlain won’t mind one bit. Now back in the Liverpool team, he has a chance to re-establish himself as a key member of the squad heading into the festive season if he steers clear of injury.

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