Jamie Redknapp thinks Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has vastly improved since he left Arsenal, and says Liverpool have a real player now.
Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Jurgen Klopp’s side in August for around £35m, after a particularly bad period of form with the Gunners which culminated in a dire showing against Liverpool at Anfield. However, Redknapp thinks the 24-year-old has turned the corner now.
“There’s vast improvements in his game,” he said to Sky Sports. “I felt when he went to Arsenal for years he stood still. He never really looked like he was improving, at times he picked up a lot of injuries.
“I know what that’s like, it’s demoralising. But even when he got himself fit he just didn’t look like he had that sharpness. I’m seeing here a real player under Jurgen Klopp. It looks like the fitness is there, I think that he’s learning in the position that he’s playing.
“The problem he is going to have is that obviously Adam Lallana is getting back to fitness now. There’s a lot of competition for places in that midfield. But if he carries on playing like that in a midfield three, he will be very hard to dislodge.”
Redknapp’s comments are echoed in the social media posts of thousands of Liverpool fans over the last few days, who seemed particularly impressed by the Englishman’s performance against Bournemouth at the weekend.
But from the point of view of someone who has been watching Oxlade-Chamberlain for many years now, I’m not convinced. The only thing about the former Arsenal man’s game that has been consistent over the years – other than injury problems – is his inconsistency. He’ll play well for a while, and then follow that up with just as many poor performances.
Last season, in one of the few campaigns the midfielder almost managed to complete a full season for Arsenal, he scored six goals and provided 11 assists in 45 appearances. This season, he has two goals and two assists in 24. So he’s not on track to hit either of last year’s totals.
There’s more to football than goals and assists, but without adding them to his game, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s dribbling abilities are somewhat redundant. His pass completion rates have decreased, and his defensive stats have never been anything to write home about.
Until the £35m Liverpool signing starts to specialise in something, I’m going to be extremely sceptical of any hype around him.