Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has struggled for game time at Liverpool this season, despite being fully fit, but Jurgen Klopp’s injury problems could offer him a chance today
He has made just five appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s side so far, just one of which has been a start in the Premier League.
For a 28-year-old player who is fully fit after a sustained period of injuries, that is not a great situation to be in.
Many would have thought that Gini Wijnaldum’s departure and Liverpool’s decision not to replace him in the summer transfer market might have benefited Oxlade-Chamberlain. But, so far at least, that has simply not been the case.
The emergence of Harvey Elliott and continued form of Curtis Jones has kept Oxlade-Chamberlain out of the spotlight, alongside Naby Keita.
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The start to the 2021/22 campaign is probably not what Oxlade-Chamberlain envisaged when he hit the ground running in pre-season and started the first game of the season against Norwich.
The Mirror therefore understands that he is considering his options, knowing he cannot fulfil his goal of getting back in the England squad while sitting on Liverpool’s bench. A move away from Anfield could be on the cards in 2022.
It looks like a make-or-break time for Oxlade-Chamberlain and he might just get the opportunity he is looking for against Watford on Saturday.
With the international break over, Liverpool return to Premier League action against the Hornets in the early kick-off at Vicarage Road.
Having been forced to watch most of their recent games from the bench, Oxlade-Chamberlain could well be involved today and – if he is – will have to use the opportunity to send a message to Klopp.
Klopp has something of a midfield conundrum on his hands, thanks to injuries and complications surrounding the international break.
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Elliott is a long-term absentee after dislocating his ankle against Leeds and Thiago Alcantara remains out with a calf injury.
Along with Alisson, Fabinho is travelling straight to Spain ahead of next week’s Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid after playing for Brazil against Uruguay on Friday morning.
Jones is also out after picking up an injury on international duty with England Under-21s.
All together, Klopp has four unavailable central midfielders for the Watford trip.
The Liverpool head coach is left with Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Given he usually plays a 4-3-3 formation that likely means just one player missing out on selection.
Henderson is certain to start in the anchor role, while Milner can move into midfield with Trent Alexander-Arnold returning at right-back.
Oxlade-Chamberlain will be hoping he gets the nod ahead of Keita for the third midfield spot, even though the Guinea international has made twice as many league appearances this season and scored an eye-catching volley in the 3-0 win over Crystal Palace.
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Keita has failed to convince in the box-to-box midfield role since moving to Liverpool for £52.75million from RB Leipzig in July 2018.
Elliott looked hugely promising in that role before his unfortunate injury, while Jones’ recent selection streak was also fully justified.
If he is to turn his fortunes around Oxlade-Chamberlain needs to live up to his own aims of matching Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne’s output.
“He would be the one that I’d look to to try and play the way he does,” he told The Athletic earlier this year.
“How positive he is when he’s turning, running with the ball, he’s playing forwards, also getting in wide areas, putting a lot of crosses in and running down the channels.
“I’d say he’s the most dynamic player and one that I try and play very similar to when I’m in that position.”
If he is given the chance to play against Watford, then Oxlade-Chamberlain simply has to grasp it, because Klopp’s selection headaches won’t come around often.