Jurgen Klopp has encouraged Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to continue to show both the mature and exciting parts of his game instead of falling into the “overachieving” trap.
Opportunities to find his rhythm have been hard to come by for Liverpool’s No. 15 but he benefitted from injuries in midfield to start against Atletico Madrid in midweek.
It was his 11th outing of the season and his longest outside of the League Cup, and he showed signs of old with his attacking impetus and work off the ball.
The maturity of his play and his desire to “do risky things” were both on show and he himself acknowledged rhythm is important to excel in both areas.
And Klopp brilliantly expanded on the point and how coming in cold can often lead to players looking to “overachieve” and force the issue, but that Oxlade-Chamberlain displayed all the right signs on Wednesday.
“I thought it was a really good game, he played a really good game against Atletico – very mature,” Klopp said of Oxlade-Chamberlain.
“He had his Oxlade-Chamberlain moments, going with the ball and all that kind of stuff. But we need Mr Oxlade-Chamberlain as well, the mature one, the calm one, the closing one and all these kinds of things.
“It was a really good game. We had a proper talk before the game about that, what we expect and stuff like this. He fulfilled the role really well, I was really happy for him.
“And that’s how you get rhythm then. If you play like this, it will not last too long until you play again and all these kinds of things. That’s how it is.
“That’s needed [both sides to his game] and Oxlade has that. The problem is when you don’t play for a long time and you are constantly in the situation that you think you have to convince people; then it’s probably more the speed-ups and stuff like this.
“Speed-ups, they are brilliant but there is not always a space there for that. That’s why I was so happy for him that he really could mix it up.
“Of course, we need both and we have usually both, but when he didn’t play for a long time then it’s like this, you try to overachieve pretty much in a game, it was then a bit the case.
“It was now really, in a very positive way, a relaxed performance but extremely helpful for the team.”
A further opportunity could arise at West Ham on Sunday with Curtis Jones, James Milner and Naby Keita still sidelined, while a start may be deemed too soon for Thiago – meaning he could be a decisive part of the three-man midfield.