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How could Liverpool line-up with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Philippe Coutinho?

The Boot Room




Now that the dust has settled on transfer deadline day, it is time to reflect on the performance of clubs and the players that they signed. One of the biggest deadline day deals centred around Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who, despite being away on England duty, managed to agree a £40 million switch from Arsenal to Liverpool.

In turning down champions Chelsea, Oxlade-Chamberlain made a bold call and made it clear that he wanted to operate predominantly as a central midfielder at whichever club he joined.

While manager Jurgen Klopp clearly shares this vision and will look to deploy Oxlade-Chamberlain’s power and drive in the centre of the park whenever possible, the versatility of the star also means that he can be played as a winger, an attacking midfielder and even a roving wing-back.

So, how could Liverpool line up with Oxlade-Chamberlain in the side, particularly once the club’s talisman Philippe Coutinho is fit? The Boot Room asseses Klopp’s options:

4-3-3 with Oxlade-Chamberlain in central midfield

Many fans have suggested that Oxlade-Chamberlain could slot easily into Liverpool’s existing 4-3-3 formation, alongside captain Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum. However, this would force Emre Can out of the side, which seems unlikely given that the German has been in imperious form of late and offers Klopp considerable technical quality and a wider range of passing in the centre of the park.

With this in mind, Oxlade-Chamberlain would be a more fitting replacement for the inconsistent Wijnaldum, who despite excelling in the recent 4-0 win against Arsenal came under significant fire for his performance against Watford on the opening game of the season. The Englishman could certainly match Wijnaldum’s power and energy in midfield, while his direct running and ability to carry the ball from deep would add an interesting dimension to the Reds’ play.

However, Oxlade-Chamberlain would not offer as much cover in front of the back four, so Klopp may need to experiment with his midfield line-up in order to achieve his ideal balance.

4-2-3-1 with Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right and Coutinho in the hole

Another option is to utilise Oxlade-Chamberlain’s pace and dribbling skills in an advanced right wing role, while looking to reintegrate the returning Philippe Coutinho in the hole behind Roberto Firmino (with Sadio Mane operating on the left-hand side).

Firmino has certainly excelled as a false number nine so far this season, with Sadio Mane’s form and his ability to penetrate defences when cutting inside from the left flank having also wowed Liverpool’s fans. This leaves two potential places in a fluid, 4-2-3-1 formation, with Coutinho’s vision, guile and movement making him ideally suited to playing in a central role behind Firmino.

Oxlade-Chamberlain can then be rotated with summer signing Mohamed Salah on the right-hand side, although these players would all have the license to roam and interchange as part of Liverpool’s fast and fluid attacking philosophy.

This makes for a mouth-watering attacking line-up, and one that offers pace, movement and penetration in abundance. The question that remains is whether Oxlade-Chamberlain would be happy in such a role, particularly given his stated preference for playing in the centre?

4-1-2-1-2 with Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right of a midfield diamond

Similarly, Liverpool also seem to have the requisite players to deploy a classic diamond formation after the signing of Oxlade-Chamberlain. This would see former Arsenal man deployed on the right-hand side of the midfield diamond, with Jordan Henderson at the base and Wijnaldum on the left. Coutinho could then be left to roam from the tip of the diamond, while Salah, Mane, Sturridge and Firmino compete for the two forward roles.

With Liverpool’s strikers liable to drop deep and pull wide when the Reds are in possession, this would create space for Coutinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain Wijnaldum and to move into. In particular, Firmino could drop deeper to help Liverpool saturate the midfield and create more options for the man on the ball when the Reds have possession, while the system can easily become an organised 4-5-1 (with Mane moving out the wide areas) when Klopp’s men are defending.

There is even scope for Coutinho to play deeper on the left-hand side of the diamond, creating a more attacking line-up that can see Firmino at the tip and two from Mane, Salah and Daniel Sturridge leading the attack.

Clearly Klopp has options, with the returning Coutinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain capable of offering diversity and tactical flexibility in equal measure. The key will be for the German to strike the ideal balance in his new-look side, while looking to get the best out each individual at his disposal.

So how do you think Liverpool should line-up with Coutinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain? Let us know in the comments below:

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.


Virgil van Dijk proving to be worth his price-tag, but must keep Cristiano Ronaldo quiet

Liverpool’s January recruit has been in fine form since his arrival at the club.

Mathew Coull



Liverpool take on Real Madrid this weekend in the Champions League final in a highly anticipated game in Kiev. The fixture will see Jurgen Klopp’s side hope to capture an impressive title after an enthralling run to the final in which they have played some expansive attacking football.

But to beat Real Madrid they will also have to keep Los Merengues at bay. With one of the greatest to ever play the game in Cristiano Ronaldo among their attacking options, that is no easy feat.

For Liverpool, the key man could, therefore, be the one who has proven to be a massive improvement for the side since his January arrival.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The Reds paid Southampton a whopping fee of £75 million, as reported by the BBC. It was a price-tag called into question by many pundits and fans alike. However, the Dutchman has been in fine form since his arrival and added a genuine aura to the Liverpool back-line.

His aerial presence, speed and intelligence have all been demonstrated on a number of occasions as Liverpool’s defensive fragilities have been transformed since his arrival.

The impact he has had on Dejan Lovren cannot be understated. The Croatian looks to be back to something near his best since pairing with Van Dijk. His cool style on the ball and brilliant reading of the game has allowed Lovren to relax into his role and the pair make a good partnership.

(Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

Against Ronaldo, all of Van Dijk’s best attributes will be tested.

The Portuguese attacker is still lightning quick, a monster in the air and his footballing brain is often unrivalled.

If Liverpool are to keep him quiet, it will rest largely on the shoulders of their £75 million winter investment.

It is these challenges that forced Van Dijk into pushing for his Southampton departure and he must ensure he is up to it this Saturday.

If he can keep Ronaldo quiet and Liverpool win the Champions League, then that £75 million fee will no longer seem so astronomical.

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Tottenham Hotspur

After Champions League heartbreak, Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic should make Tottenham switch

The Serbian could prove the perfect long-term replacement for Mousa Dembele.

Max Cohen



Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
Photo: Getty Images

Lazio’s dream of qualifying for next season’s Champions League was ended in the cruelest of circumstances on Sunday, after two late goals from Inter Milan pushed the capital club into fifth position.

For standout central midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, the lack of top-level European football must have come as a blow, and the 23-year-old should move to Tottenham Hotspur to seek the high-quality competition he deserves.

The Serbian international could prove to be the ideal long-term replacement for Mousa Dembele in north London, as he shares the Belgian’s combination of physical strength and deft skills.

Milinkovic-Savic enjoyed a superb campaign for the Italian club, playing 47 times and chipping in with 14 goals and nine assists.

These are laudable attacking numbers for a midfielder who operates in the engine room of the pitch, and his attacking contributions led Lazio to within inches of their first Champions League berth in over a decade.

The Serbian international is also a key defensive presence on the pitch. Standing at 6 feet 3 inches, the midfielder is a strong header of the ball and has the strength to outmuscle opposition attackers with ease.

(Photo by Marco Bertorello/Getty Images)

According to the Manchester Evening News, Manchester United are targeting Milinkovic-Savic and the player is set to make a decision on his future over the weekend.

Although he has been linked with the Manchester club, Milinkovic-Savic would do well to move to north London and play under Mauricio Pochettino.

Spurs are in vital need of central midfield reinforcements this summer, as the futures of Moussa Sissoko, Victor Wanyama, and Dembele are all unclear.

Dembele has been an excellent performer for Spurs under Pochettino, and should undoubtedly be offered a new deal this offseason.

However, the Belgian turns 31 this summer and Tottenham must seek a quality, long-term replacement for the midfielder.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic would be a fantastic addition to the Spurs squad and an ideal successor to Dembele in the centre of the park; the prospect of Champions League football should lure him to White Hart Lane this season.

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Mark Hughes appointment offers Southampton much needed stability



Photo: Getty Images.

Southampton are closing in on making an appointment as their manager for 2018/19 and beyond with reports indicating that Mark Hughes will extend his initial short term stay with a three year contract.

Sky Sports say that talks are ongoing with an agreement nearing between the two parties as the Saints look to bounce back having narrowly avoided relegation from the Premier League as one of the most disappointing performers over the past season.

It came after yet another managerial change last summer, with Claude Puel being dismissed and Mauricio Pellegrino appointed. The Argentinian lasted less than a year and was fired in March, too late from the point of view of many fans, with Hughes brought into to rescue the team.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Hughes may not be the most glamorous and exciting of appointments, lacking the unknown factor that the likes of Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman has in the past, but he does bring in Premier League experience and much needed stability.

Since taking over in March, he managed 1.10 points per match, compared to 1.09 for Pellegrino before him, but he did turn things around and save the team from the drop, with a new mentality getting the best out of some of the many players who had been underperforming.

Southampton have not had the same manager for more than two years since Nigel Adkins got the team promoted from the third tier back to the Premier League, and with a long-term contract Hughes could be that man.

After years of frequent change, cashing in on those who performed well and losing managers, for the first time in 2017/18 the gamble backfired and almost cost the club dearly. An investment in stability is the best logical next step.

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