Liverpool’s defeat against Napoli last night should not ring too many alarm bells for the Reds. They have had a punishing two-game battle with Chelsea leading to this fixture and the Italians are top opposition, especially in their home ground.
However, it became clear that Liverpool are missing one player they perhaps did not realise they would.
When Naby Keita had to come off injured the Liverpool team lost an attacking impetus from midfield. Jordan Henderson’s introduction did little to change that. The man they would have liked to have available was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The England international initially struggled at Liverpool following his £40 million move in August last year. However, toward the end of the season, he was proving pivotal, especially in their Champions League campaign.
Unfortunately, he suffered a serious knee injury in the semi-final tie with Roma. It left him out of action for the World Cup this summer and it is unlikely Liverpool fans will see him again this season.
The 25-year-old would have been the perfect replacement yesterday and the dynamism he brings to the midfield has certainly been missing over the past week or so.
Liverpool could certainly do with having him around as the obvious alternative to Keita, whose injury is not considered serious. But it is a testament to Oxlade-Chamberlain that in 12 months he has gone from looking like a flop to being sorely missed at Anfield.