Ox reveals how Curtis Jones made him feel old as Liverpool duo set same goal for 2020/21

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones have both set the same target for 2020/21, with the No. 15 praising Liverpool’s youth ranks for improving “the culture” at the club.

In terms of fitness, last season was a positive one for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who made 43 appearances in all competitions for the Reds, the eighth-most of any player.

Twenty-five of those were starts, and at times he looked close to his best, such as in the 4-1 win at Genk in October that saw him score twice including a goal-of-the-season contender.

He was Liverpool’s top scorer outside of their established front three, striking eight times, but there is an inescapable feeling that more could have come from the 26-year-old.

In terms of minutes (2,195), he did not break into the most-featured XI in the Reds’ title-winning campaign, with Fabinho (2,925), Jordan Henderson (3,167) and Gini Wijnaldum (3,644) all clocking more in midfield.

It was no surprise, therefore, that when asked their goals for next season in a Q&A with John Barnes, Oxlade-Chamberlain echoed Jones’ answer: “To establish myself more as a first-team player.”

Though intended as a joke on the ex-Arsenal midfielder’s part, it reflected how the pair are increasingly finding themselves battling for a place in the Liverpool side.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 29, 2020: Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is replaced by substitute Curtis Jones during the FA Premier League match between West Ham United FC and Liverpool FC at the London Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“For me, it’s basically been a platform season that will set me up for another one,” Jones continued, assessing the campaign just gone.

“I’ve finished on a high and I’ve been around a big team all season, so I would love to keep it going for as long as I could.”

For Jones, the 2019/20 campaign was his breakthrough, establishing himself as a bona fide first-team option, culminating in a first Premier League goal and a new five-year contract, having made 12 appearances in all competitions.

Both operating in similar roles, it is likely that it will be one or the other when it comes to him and Oxlade-Chamberlain next season, and while that poses a new challenge to the No. 15, he was hugely positive when it came to the influence of youth.

“I enjoy seeing young players do well and show what they can do,” he said when Barnes asked about the importance of young, local players getting into the side.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, April 3, 2018: Liverpool's Curtis Jones during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

“One of Curtis’ first or second training sessions, when I asked him how old he was and he told me he was born in 2001, that was my first experience of thinking ‘my god, I’m old now!’.

“I think it’s good for us as well, to have the young boys around. People like Curtis have brought a lot to the team.

“The whole vibe, the culture, they keep the old boys [up to date]. Teaching Milly all the new artists and the new music, stuff like that!”

Jones, along with Neco Williams and Harvey Elliott, will be a regular option for Jurgen Klopp next season, and given the compressed nature of the fixture list, they and other youngsters could see significant game time.

That should also aid Oxlade-Chamberlain in his pursuit of a more consistent role, as he vies with the likes of Jones, Naby Keita and Takumi Minamino for minutes.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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