Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has the opportunity to thrive at Liverpool FC
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be keen to prove himself at Liverpool FC after joining from Arsenal in August
The dust is still settling on the comings and goings from the transfer window, as football fans gradually grow accustomed to seeing the top players in their new environments and betting fans assess their profit or loss and prepare for the next online bookmakers’ frenzy.
For the players themselves, it is a time for reflection. With the multi million pound deals put behind them, they will be asking themselves how their latest move will help or hinder their careers as professional sportsmen.
Perhaps one man pondering this question more than most is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The 24-year-old transferred from Arsenal for £35m on deadline day, and the news was greeted positively by fans and pundits. Arsenal have had a torrid few weeks on and off the field, and a move to Anfield was just what the midfielder needed to get his focus back onto developing an already impressive career.
In bidding farewell to the Gunners on social media, Oxlade-Chamberlain said the same thing, remarking: “I feel that this move is right for the next stage in my ongoing development.”
A shaky start
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and the situation looked less rosy. The midfielder has spent more time warming the bench than out in the middle. He made his debut in the team’s 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City, coming on to replace Mohamed Saleh at half time, when the Reds were already 2-0 down, and only came on for the final ten minutes in the 1-1 draw against Burnley.
Oxlade-Chamberlain finally made his first start on Tuesday, but things went from bad to worse for the team, as they were bundled out of the Carabao Cup by Leicester, despite dominating the first half.
Liverpool fans took to social media in the wake of the defeat, and had their gaze focused firmly on the new kid, with some even going so far as to suggest he has brought a curse upon the club, with the phrase “The Curse of the Ox” trending on Twitter. Many lost no time in pointing out that Liverpool have yet to win a game since signing him, and one even contributed the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that they might consider loaning him back to the Gunners.
However, not everyone was ganging up on Oxlade-Chamberlain. Clearly, it was a poor team performance in the second half for which everyone shares some responsibility, but likewise, he contributed as much as anyone before the break, and he had one accurate shot at goal that was blocked by the Leicester defence.
Manager Jurgen Klopp has also been vociferous in his support for Oxlade-Chamberlain. He commented on the “relief” felt by the young man at being able to make a new start particularly in view of all the distractions at Arsenal.
He observed that he has “settled in perfectly,” and recognised that spectators might read something into the fact that he has so far had just the one start, having played in every game at Arsenal. He said it is all about long term planning and preparation, and that fans need to be patient.
Long term planning and an online wager
Klopp’s advice will strike a chord with many, as in the current age of online sports betting and casinos, more people than ever are doing exactly that, and looking at long term trends to bet on team fortunes. Now that we are a few weeks into the season, it could be interesting to take a look at some of the online sites such as uk-casinos to get a feel for how the bookmakers think Liverpool and Oxlade-Chamberlain will fare over the coming weeks.
Short term, there is the opportunity for revenge against Leicester, when the teams meet again at the King Power Stadium. If Oxlade-Chamberlain is again in the starting XI, this could be his moment to shine and score his first goal for The Reds. Bookmakers are offering odds of around 4/1, which many fans will find tempting. Back him to be the first goal scorer in the match, and the odds escalate to 12/1.
However, we said that checking the odds is all about long term predictions. Given the less than ideal start, where do the betting sites see Liverpool at the end of the season? Believe it or not, it is an incredible 27 years since Liverpool last won the Premier League, in a team that featured Bruce Grobbelaar, Ian Rush and John Barnes. Of course, a lot has happened over the intervening years.
With every match that goes by, the likelihood of Liverpool making this the year they finally regain the top spot becomes slimmer and the odds of title glory in 2017/18 get steadily longer. You can currently get around 25/1 from most bookmakers.
However, the fact that they are offering even money odds on a top four finish certainly means they are expected to be genuine contenders. So perhaps that 25/1 shot is worth taking before they get their act together!
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s chance to shine
We began by asking whether the move to Liverpool would prove beneficial to Oxlade-Chamberlain’s career. Of course, it is impossible to say for certain at present, but despite the difficult start, Anfield should provide an environment that will get the very best out of him.
At Liverpool, he will be able to play in his preferred central midfield location, and bearing in mind that he is still only 24, he could develop into one of the very best. While Klopp acknowledges that playing in different positions was good for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s overall development, he feels that now is the time for him to really develop and to focus on doing what he does best.
Klopp is certain that he can bring out the best in his young star and told the Independent: “He’s at a perfect age and is still able to make big steps.”