Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has expressed his enjoyment in taking up his new role up front for Liverpool, having netted his first goal of pre-season against Hertha Berlin.
With Roberto Firmino absent and Diogo Jota back late after the Euros, Jurgen Klopp has called upon Oxlade-Chamberlain as an auxiliary No. 9 this summer.
Thursday saw him replace Takumi Minamino at half-time as Liverpool played out a 4-3 friendly defeat to Hertha Berlin, with the pair both getting on the scoresheet in a solid workout in Austria.
It remains to be seen where Oxlade-Chamberlain figures in Klopp’s plans for the central attacking role for the campaign proper, but there have been signs both he and Minamino can fill in when required.
Last season saw a big drop-off in goal contribution beyond Firmino (nine), Jota (13), Sadio Mane (16) and Mo Salah (31), with Minamino level with Curtis Jones (both four) in fifth despite joining Southampton on loan mid-season.
Liverpool’s top 5 scorers, 2019/20 and 2020/21
- 1. Mo Salah – 31
- 2. Sadio Mane – 16
- 3. Diogo Jota – 13
- 4. Roberto Firmino – 9
- =5. Takumi Minamino / Curtis Jones – 4
- 1. Mo Salah – 23
- 2. Sadio Mane – 22
- 3. Roberto Firmino – 12
- 4. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 8
- =5. Divock Origi / Gini Wijnaldum – 6
Liverpool clearly missed the threat of Oxlade-Chamberlain, who netted eight times in 2019/20 but scored only once last term, and speaking to LFCTV after the defeat to Hertha, the 27-year-old outlined his desire to chip in again.
“It’s obviously a new little role up there, which I obviously enjoy. It’s similar in ways to how the more advanced midfielder plays in the team,” he said.
“[It’s] a little bit different defensively, which I’m trying to get used to as well because I think Bobby does it better than anyone in world football. It’s not easy to follow him doing that.
“But in possession it’s nice, you can pick up nice positions and get on the ball.
“So I’m enjoying it, and if I do play more often in that position I think my main thing is to contribute with goals.
“I feel like we create a lot in and around that area, even when I play in midfield in that position, a little bit advanced, I feel like I can score goals.
“That’s something that I definitely want to bring to the team if I play there.”
The addition of Jota has given Liverpool another reliable goal threat in attack, but Klopp will be depending on other players outside of the established front four to find the back of the net too.
Minamino and Jones should be options, but with Gini Wijnaldum having left and Divock Origi experiencing a downturn in fortunes, Oxlade-Chamberlain could be a useful source.
This is particularly so if he remains an option up front, with his pre-season apprenticeship suggesting he will be considered as a No. 9 for the new campaign along with his more familiar duties out wide and in midfield.
If Oxlade-Chamberlain can stay fit and provide close to the eight-goal return he managed in 2019/20, Liverpool will have another edge in the final third.
It remains a big if, of course, but the early signs are promising for Liverpool’s No. 15.