Football

Oxlade-Chamberlain eager for chance to shine

GROUP E
NK MARIBOR LIVERPOOL

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has not enjoyed the smoothest of starts to his Liverpool career.

When the Reds take on NK Maribor in a Champions League clash tomorrow morning (Singapore time), he will be hoping to get a chance to prove what he is capable of.

The 24-year-old England international, who signed from Arsenal in August for £35 million (S$63m), has yet to begin an English Premier League game for his new team.

Against Manchester United on Saturday, he was granted a forgettable 12 minutes, following on from nine at Newcastle and 12 against Burnley and Leicester City.

He came on at half-time against Manchester City when Liverpool were two goals and a man down.

Oxlade-Chamberlain's only start was in the League Cup defeat by Leicester and he has chalked up less than 200 minutes on the field since becoming one of Liverpool's most expensive signings.

Juergen Klopp's decision not to unleash him on United said much about Oxlade-Chamberlain's lack of progress.

With Sadio Mane injured, he could have played on the wing, but the manager opted to push Philippe Coutinho wide and bring Emre Can into midfield.

Klopp justified his decision by suggesting that Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has 30 England caps and been playing at the top level for seven years, needed more time to adapt to the Liverpool way.

"We play different to Arsenal, that's clear," the German said.

"It doesn't mean we play better or worse, just different."

By contrast, Mohamed Salah, Liverpool's other main summer signing, has fitted in seamlessly even though he arrived with much less EPL experience.

But former Liverpool winger John Barnes is among those calling for patience.

He told the Evening Standard: "We're too quick to judge. When players come in and do well, we say they are fantastic.

"And if they aren't in the team and don't start, we say it's a disaster. It's not.

"He's a fantastic player. He's probably a reflection of the team. He's come to be part of a good team and because the team have been inconsistent, maybe he's been inconsistent."

Former Spurs midfielder Jermaine Jenas is also confident that Oxlade-Chamberlain will become a success.

"He's taken a lot of stick over the last couple of weeks," Jenas told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Alex is a good player. It will turn. At times, it's just difficult when you're at a new club." - WIRE SERVICES

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