Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain probably would have hoped for a better Liverpool debut than coming off the bench during a 5-0 Premier League defeat to Manchester City.
Following a £35m (BBC) deadline day transfer from Arsenal – losing 4-0 to his new team in his final game for the Gunners – the 24-year-old came off the bench to replace Mohamed Salah at half-time.
Four days later he replaced Salah once again during a 2-2 Champions League draw with Sevilla, this time in the 89th-minute, with early signs suggesting manager Jurgen Klopp views Oxlade-Chamberlain as a winger.
Which will come as a disappointment to the England international, who the BBC reported rejected a £40m switch to Chelsea and instead chose the Reds because he thought it would give him a better chance of playing in his favoured central midfield position.
Oxlade-Chamberlain feared the Blues wanted to use him as wing-back, a role he had done well in for Arsene Wenger in the 2017 FA Cup final and in spells at the beginning of this season.
Yet has the Southampton academy graduate been too hasty to reject this new responsibility to try and chase a place in the middle – especially as there are so many ahead of him there at Anfield currently and more to come?
Klopp has generally utilised captain Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can in his three-man midfield so far this term, with all impressing at certain points. Then there is the issue of reintegrating Philippe Coutinho back into the team, with the Brazilian also coming off the bench against Sevilla after being the subject of three rejected bids from Barcelona this summer, the most recent being £114m (BBC).
Adam Lallana will also be returning from injury at some point, while James Milner is once again considered a central midfielder after spending 2016/17 filling in at left-back. Oxlade-Chamberlain could effectively have six players ahead of him for a place in his preferred position.
Plus there are question marks over whether it suits him in any case. With physicality and athleticism his biggest attributes, perhaps turning down the chance to compete with and possibly overtake Victor Moses for a place at wing-back at Stamford Bridge is one Oxlade-Chamberlain will come to reject.
More Breaking News:
Because of Arsenal’s Europa League commitments (point and laugh: HA-HA!), this game is only on Sunday, and another early kick-off just like our last home game in the league against Everton. That one turned out quite alright, though Arsenal have righted their ship somewhat unlike the Toffees, who continue to free-fall out of top seven relevance — they lost 3-0 to Atalanta in the Europa yesterday, to follow up a 3-0 home loss to Spurs and that 2-0 defeat to Chelsea. Ouch.
But enough about them. Time to pay great attention to Arsenal.
They rotated their squad quite heavily for Thursday’s win over Bundesliga strugglers 1.FC Köln and also notched a win over Bournemouth last weekend. None of those results should be relevant to a performance at Stamford Bridge, but confidence works in mysterious ways and now they have at least a little bit of it.
Chelsea themselves should be plenty confident of course, especially with a nearly fully healthy squad — Danny Drinkwater is the only questionmark right now after a new muscular injury of indeterminate magnitude ruled him out of Tuesday’s match.
Chelsea should undoubtedly go with the strongest possible lineup for this one. But what should that be?