With Thiago and Jordan Henderson close to a return, Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have been urged to seize their chance by manager Jürgen Klopp.
Jurgen Klopp sent a thinly disguised threat to all of the players in his squad ahead of the clash against Burnley.
Speaking at his pre-game press conference, Klopp was quizzed about Naby Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain,
both of whom were surprise starters in the season opener against Norwich,
and the German stated that the pair need to make the most of any opportunities given.
“They are very valuable,” said Klopp. “It’s all about being available and using the momentum and stuff like this. That’s football.
“It doesn’t make you a worse player or whatever. Without luck in life you are really on the wrong side of a lot of things.
“When you get injured in the wrong moment, the football train never waits.
So we have to be really on top of that and try to keep them in the best possible shape,
but the quality of the players was never in doubt.
“Come on. When you think about these two players [Keïta and Oxlade-Chamberlain] and the strengths they have,
it’s a book of its own. You could write a book about that.
“It’s great to have them and it’s always clear, when you get a chance, you had better use it. It will not be the last, especially not in our case, but it makes more sense to use it immediately.
“Then you have another game, another game and another game. That’s how it is.
“But there are a lot of good football players in our squad
and we will change independent of performances in the last game,
just for intensity reasons. But that’s obviously a little bit early [in the season].”
Both players have severely struggled with injuries since coming to Anfield. Between them, the pair have accumulated a total of 15 injuries (excluding knocks) at Liverpool, missing out on an incredible 128 games combined.
There is a feeling that this could be the pair’s last season to prove they still warrant a future at Liverpool.
Oxlade-Chamberlain had been linked with a move to West Ham during the summer transfer window (and a move still can’t be ruled out, if the club receive an offer they deem acceptable),
whilst Keïta is also losing time to demonstrate his obvious ability.
Both players, who arrived in 2017 and 2018 respectively, were bought for large sums of money.
Keïta in particular was a costly purchase, having been signed for £52 million from RB Leipzig,
and yet the pair are still to reach a century of starts in the Premier League between them (67, for anyone wondering).
With Thiago Alcântara and Jordan Henderson set to return,
and James Milner an important figure for Klopp, the fight for midfield places will be as competitive as ever.
Six players for three starting positions.
Oxlade-Chamberlain did little to stand out against Norwich,
and was taken off on the hour for Fabinho.
Keïta, meanwhile, remained on the pitch for the duration, and offered his usual tenacity and dynamism on the left-hand side.
Fabinho isn’t expected to feature for Liverpool in the immediate future due to the sad passing of his father.
These unfortunate circumstances could present Keïta or Oxlade-Chamberlain with one of the opportunities Klopp referred to in his press conference.
The English season is always a long, arduous one. There are a lot of games in the various competitions and,
depending on how far Liverpool advance in the cup competitions,
more than enough games to share between the six midfielders.
But Keïta and Oxlade-Chamberlain both know there won’t be many more chances to save their future at Anfield, especially once Henderson and Thiago are back fully fit.
So as Klopp himself says, they ‘better use’ the chances that come their way.