Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hinted that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain might need to get used to playing in an unfamiliar role for the remainder of the season for the Reds.
Oxlade-Chamberlain spent six seasons at the Emirates Stadium, establishing himself as a regular England international and lifting the FA Cup on three occasions in Arsenal colours before moving north to Anfield in 2017.
His time with Liverpool has been hampered with injuries but he played a key role in lasts season’s title triumph, starting 25 of the 38 league matches as Liverpool romped to their first league trophy in 30 years.
This campaign has once again been an injury-interrupted one for the 27-year-old but Oxlade-Chamberlain is now back to full fitness and could be set to feature against his former club, albeit not in his usual midfield position.
The Liverpool man returned to the Reds team as a substitute against Wolves in their last league match replacing Diogo Jota in the no.9 role and Klopp was pleased with what he saw.
“Ox came on and was a real breath of fresh air. He was brilliant, especially in that position,” the Liverpool manager said.
Speaking ahead of the clash with Arsenal Klopp expanded on his thoughts of using Oxlade-Chamberlain as a striker: “He can do that. He did that against West Ham as well.,” he said.
“West Ham away, he came on in the same position and did really well there. Ox is obviously a versatile player, definitely more offensively orientated. And that’s a very offensive position for him with the speed, the technique, the moves, the turns, the acceleration he is able to do. It’s a good position.
“It was not only for that [last game against Wolverhampton Wanderers], we knew [he could play there]. He didn’t play it 500 times obviously but we knew because of the West Ham game it’s good for him. And that’s why he came on. And yes, he was impressive, even when it’s three weeks ago, it was good.”
One barrier to Oxlade-Chamberlain returning to the No.9 role against his former club is the return to fitness of Liverpool’s orthodox striker Roberto Firmino who Klopp confirmed is available following injury.
“Bobby is back,” the manager said, and with Diogo Jota on the scoresheet against Wolves and in the goals for his country Portugal during the international break competition is fierce to break into the Reds attacking line-up.
The summer transfer window is just around the corner.
And the rumour mill is already starting to pick up speed.
Arsenal will not have a huge amount of money to spend, but Mikel Arteta will be hoping to make a number of moves, with loanee Martin Odegaard high up the list of priorities to bring in on a permanent deal.
But who would you sign? Get involved in our transfer window debate here.
With Liverpool and Arsenal both struggling in the league this season a win for either side will be a much needed morale boost ahead of their respective European matches mid-week.
Liverpool take on Real Madrid on Tuesday evening in their Champions League quarter-final tie, whilst Arsenal head to Slavia Prague at the same stage of the Europa League on Thursday night.
With both teams looking off the pace in the hunt for a Champions League place through the Premier League, progress in Europe is likely to be the priority over the league game this weekend.