The ex-Arsenal prodigy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain moved to Liverpool under controversial circumstances after playing rubbish for Arsenal in our meeting at the Emirates in the early stages of the season. We all knew the move was going to happen but the midfielder, who when at Arsenal was used as a versatile play-in-any-position substitute, believes he is much better off now that he knows exactly what his role is in the team. The Ox has now explained why he thinks he has improved under Klopp.
“He said on the official Liverpool website: “If I’m coming off the bench he tells me my role first, he’ll say: ‘Make sure you help Alberto out and get back here and when we attack you’re an attacker, and when we defend you’re a proper midfielder,’”
“I’ll say ‘yeah, no problem’. Then just before I go on he’ll tap me and go: ‘By the way, maybe it’s a good idea to shoot and score!’
“That’s always nice because I think a lot of managers will just concentrate on the things they want to make sure you do, whereas he’ll do that and then he’ll give you that license to go and have a bit of fun as well – to go and shoot and score and take people on, which is nice to hear for an attacking player like me.”
“I’ve definitely got the idea and I know in my head what he demands. You say ‘fully up to speed’ – it’s maybe one of those things that can take longer than that,”
“I think the more I play and the more consistently I play I’ll be physically fully up to speed with the demands, but I definitely feel that I’m in a really good place physically and I think I’ve made strides in that respect, with how intense the training is here and how demanding this manager is.
“I think I’ve definitely improved on that and I think I’ll keep improving with doing the things that he wants and keep practicing the way he wants to train. The more I play, obviously physically you adapt and get fitter and stronger, so I’ve definitely got an understanding of what’s needed now and how he wants the boys to play and specifically me in my position.
“So it’s just a case of making sure I keep doing the right things and when I get the opportunities to play, just try and do as well as I can.
“Goals and assists is what my role is – and to work hard for the team as well, so I make sure I always do that.”
The Ox played many roles when he was at Arsenal, and his last was as a wing-back, but he always said that his preferred position was in central midfield, but Wenger kept putting him in any position on the pitch with little success. Maybe he just needed a more xefinite position to focus on whic most Arsenal players suffer from as well. Look at Maitland-Niles yesterday who was played as a right back.
Should Wenger not keep looking to train players to play in any position but instead be given a specific role to focus on?