Danny Mills has heaped praise on Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but has admitted that it isn’t always clear where he fits in to the Reds’ side.
The 26-year-old wasn’t used against RB Salzburg on Tuesday evening, but has been a regular contributor for Jurgen Klopp’s men since returning from injury last season.
But according to Sky Sports pundit Mills, it only makes sense to start him in some games.
Speaking to Football Insider, he said: “I think Oxlade-Chamberlain has been superb…but where does he fit in Liverpool’s system? That’s a slight conundrum.
“If you’re gonna play Fabinho, you can play Henderson as well who offers something
“But Oxlade-Chamberlain doesn’t offer that, as his first thought is always, ‘can I get forward, score goals?’ So you’re taking something away defensively to play him and in some games that can cause an issue.
“So it’s just Klopp working out that dynamic, but Oxlade-Chamberlain has been superb for Liverpool and England, but where does he fit in Liverpool’s team in big games?”
This is a fair point from Mills, but you could say the same about a lot of players. At the end of the day, the Ox is a naturally forward-thinking player, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but there are going to be games when a little bit more defensive solidity will be needed. So far this season, Oxlade-Chamberlain has just 0.9 tackles and 0.6 interceptions per game, as per Whoscored, and that lack of grit in the middle of the park isn’t always going to be affordable. It doesn’t mean that the Ox doesn’t have his part to play, but it does mean that there are going to be games, such as Tuesday’s trip to Austria, when a more industrious midfield option is preferred. All in all though, it’s just great that the Reds have this kind of strength in depth, because it wasn’t too long ago when Jurgen Klopp was scraping the barrel for genuine top level talent to pad out his squad.