Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain delivered his best performance in a Liverpool shirt during the Reds’ victory over West Ham United at the weekend. Jurgen Klopp’s side were superb and ran out 4-1 winners, a result that led to the sacking of Slaven Bilic. It would be easy to concentrate on the failures of the Hammers, but the visitors were excellent and it was a much-needed result to send them back into contention in the top six. A title push is beyond them as they are already 12 points behind Manchester City, but they will want to consolidate their position in the top four.
The recruitment during the summer was widely criticised by pundits and supporters alike, as the club failed to sign a defender. There was a lot of interest in Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk, but they couldn’t get a deal done and they were left short as they didn’t have any alternatives lined up. As a £35 million signing, there was pressure on Oxlade-Chamberlain to make an immediate impact and he didn’t do that.
The season started well for the midfielder, as he starred during Arsenal’s opening day victory over Leicester City. Although he didn’t contribute a goal or an assist, he was excellent in both halves of the pitch. During the match, he completed two key passes, eight dribbles, three tackles and three interceptions. In addition to these, he attempted six shots on goal and won three aerial duels.
Oxlade-Chamberlain looked motivated and in hindsight, it is clear that he was playing for a transfer away from the club. Arsene Wenger was keen to keep him at the club and said the following on the 24th August, which was a last-ditch attempt to convince him to stay at the Emirates Stadium:
“He is one of the players the team needs to be built around. I want him to commit to the club. I want to keep my best players. I want to keep everyone on board. For me they have a responsibility to the club. I am highly determined to keep him.”
Last season at Arsenal, Oxlade-Chamberlain always stood out as the player working tirelessly for the team and acted as a leader at times. It was crucial for the Gunners to keep him, but they were punished for their appalling control over contracts. They let the deals of several notable first-team players enter the final year and at that stage, it is the individuals that have control over their future. Chelsea were in the race to sign him, but the 24-year-old was only interested in a move to Anfield and that was completed on deadline day. In an Instagram post, he commented on his reason for his decision.
“I know my choice might come as a surprise to many, and the decision to leave was tough after being a part of the club for so many years, but I feel that this move is right for the next stage in my ongoing development,”
There was a lot of scepticism about where he would fit in at Liverpool, but he has been at Arsenal since he was a teenager and he still wasn’t a regular starter. At the beginning of the season, he was used at right wing-back and left wing-back. These weren’t the positions that he wanted to be operating in and that was motivation for the transfer.
How has he fared at Liverpool?
It has been a slow adjustment period for the 24-year-old as he has mainly been used as a substitute. He has started three matches for the club, but only one of those came in the Premier League, which was at the weekend against West Ham. A lot of supporters were surprised to see him on the team-sheet. However, Jurgen Klopp felt it was the right time to bring him in and he delivered a very good display.
The England international was started as part of a front four alongside Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane. It was a very fluid role, as he could be seen taking up central areas behind the front three and interchanging with each of them as the match progressed. The midfielder’s versatility suits Liverpool’s system well as Klopp likes his team to be fluid and Oxlade-Chamberlain is capable of switching roles during the match depending on the positions of his team-mates.
During the match, he worked hard and pressed well from the front, which is an important part of Liverpool’s system. In his substitute appearances, there were signs that he wasn’t quite at the level required in this part of his game, but it clicked against West Ham. He completed three ball recoveries and made one clearance to ease the pressure on his team.
In attack, he showed intelligent movement to find space in dangerous areas and he managed to score his first Premier League goal for the club. He got the ball in the penalty area and reacted well after his initial shot was saved by Joe Hart. It would have been a relief to have got that particular monkey off his back. The goal came at an important time immediately after West Ham had equalised. Oxlade-Chamberlain made two key passes in the match and looked at home within the Liverpool attack.
Oxlade-Chamberlain won’t start every week, as Liverpool have good options in attack and midfield. Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson will return at some stage, but the intensity of the team means that rotation will be required. On Saturday, the 24-year-old was fielded in a position that played to his strengths. It suited him down to the ground, as he could get into central areas to influence the game and interchange with the forwards.
On joining the club, the midfielder stated his desire to play in a central role and Saturday showed that it could be where his long-term future lies.
Everton must secure Frank Fabra signing before World Cup
The Colombian is set to star at the World Cup with his nation.
Everton are currently being linked with a move for Colombian left-back Frank Fabra. According to Argentine radio station El Crack Deportivo the 27-year-old is being considered as the left-back option Everton need.
Everton have been lacking in the department this season. With Leighton Baines suffering injury trouble throughout the campaign natural right-back Cuco Martina has done his best in the role. Everton thoroughly need a new left-back and Fabra is an impressive option.
The Boca Juniors defender was linked with Manchester United and Chelsea by Sky Italia’s Gianluca Di Marzio in 2016. A powerful full-back, Fabra has all it takes to be a star in European football.
Everton are therefore right to be targeting the Boca star.
But Everton must try to wrap up any potential deal before the World Cup in Russia this summer.
Fabra is looking increasingly likely to be Colombia’s first-choice left-back at the competition. Pablo Armero has had his day and Fabra is the popular choice to play the role of left-back or left wing-back.
Colombia, who are in Group H with Japan, Poland and Senegal, have high hopes of going far in the competition. Four years ago they suffered a narrow quarter-final exit at the hands of Brazil.
Fabra will no doubt be key to any success that Colombia have in the competition and therefore will catch the eye.
Everton will be fully aware what a top World Cup performance can do to a player’s value. If the Toffees want to bring in Fabra doing so before the Russia World Cup could end up being a worthwhile cost-cutting exercise.
Regardless, Everton fans will just be pleased to hear that the club are starting to identify potential options to strengthen one of their weakest positions on the field, even if it is not a household name.
£43m for Toby Alderweireld would be great business for Tottenham Hotspur
It seems that the Belgian defender is definitely on his way out of Tottenham Hotspur.
It seems as though Toby Alderweireld is on his way out of Tottenham Hotspur.
It is being reported by Het Laatse Nieuws today that the Belgian’s contract talks with Spurs have been halted.
With the Belgian out of contract in the summer of 2019, Spurs will attempt to cash in on Alderweireld now.
A fee of £43 million has been mentioned for the player, who reportedly wanted a wage to match that of Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool.
Tottenham’s stance of not paying out big wages to their top players has often been criticised. But on this occasion, the Lilywhites are doing the right thing.
On his day and when fit, Alderweireld might be the best centre-back in the Premier League. However, it has been a long time since the Belgian had such a day.
Most of this season has seen Alderweireld on the treatment table. When he has played, it has always seemed a precursor to his next injury.
Given his age and contract situation, the injury record gives Alderweireld three strikes. At £43 million, Tottenham would be getting a fantastic deal for their defender.
The report from HLN claimed that Alderweireld wanted a wage in the region of €180,000-a-week (£160,000-a-week). Such a sum is vast for a player with his current issues.
The fact Spurs were reportedly willing to go as high as €120,000 (£105,000) per week shows that Daniel Levy tried to keep the Belgian, even doubling his current wage, but Alderweireld is on his way.
It will be a shame for Spurs but breaking the wage structure at the club for an injury prone defender would not have been a wise move.
Eventually, Tottenham might have to be more lenient with their wages, but that should be saved for the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen.
Tottenham should take £43 million for Alderweireld and persevere with the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier, Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth.
Alderweireld’s next club will hope they can keep the Belgian fit long enough to reap the rewards of his potential signature.
Ronald Koeman admits he wanted Memphis Depay at Everton
But would Everton have benefited from his arrival?
Ronald Koeman is about to kickstart his managerial career with the Dutch national team. It is his first role since getting sacked by Everton and his first foray into international management. Speaking about his new role he discussed the former Manchester United winger Memphis Depay.
Speaking to the press, as reported by Football Oranje, Koeman revealed that he had tried to convince Depay to join Everton whilst he was manager at Goodison Park:
“I invited him to my home last year, when I wanted to get him to Everton. That did not work, he went to Lyon.”
Depay was with Manchester United at the time, where he had struggled to live up to his potential. Instead of joining Everton he headed to Lyon in France in a deal reported by the Telegraph to be worth £16 million.
So have Everton missed out?
Depay’s struggles to settle in English football are well known. Since his move to France things have certainly improved. Depay has scored 18 goals since his move to France. However, considering he scored 28 goals in his final season at PSV prior to his United switch it is still not a massive amount.
In the time he has been in France those 18 goals have come from 61 games. His form has been good at Lyon but certainly not to the standard many expected of him when he made the move to Manchester United.
That said, £16 million today in today’s market is not a lot of money. Looking at Everton’s team, having Depay playing from the left side would have been a massive bonus for Koeman, and now for Sam Allardyce.
Depay still has plenty to improve upon and hopefully Koeman can get the best out of him during his time as the Netherlands boss.
As for Everton, they did not get their man and paid a lot more for the man he would be battling for first-team football Yannick Bolasie – who has not yet been a hit at Goodison Park.
So, all things considered, Everton probably should wish Koeman had managed to convince Depay into a Merseyside switch last January.
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