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Welcome to Liverpool Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

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Welcome to Liverpool Football Club Alex. You should really have done this back in 2011 and saved yourself a rough 6 years at Arsenal, but all is now forgiven :D

So what should we expect from our newest addition?

Part 1 - Why Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Firstly, it is said he lacks production - i.e. goals and assists. However, if your only measurement of attacking performance is goals ( or even goals and assists) then you will run into trouble pretty quickly when trying to understand the value and usefulness in important players. Let me give you an example.

Lukaku is brilliant at scoring goals. He is powerful and hard to stop. So what is the easiest way to stop him?
- Control the supply to him. Force him to receive in non-threatening areas only.

Okay so how easy is that? At Everton that pretty much meant stopping Barkley. How easy is that?
- Very easy. He is tactically one of the stupidest players I have seen. You can easily separate him from Lukaku and push him into non-effective areas and force him into taking risks in areas of little to no rewards for doing so.

So therefore if your best link player is Barkley, you can completely nullify an attack by simply nullifying Barkley which is remarkably easy to do. This is what happens when Liverpool play Everton. We simply cut the tether between those players and then shut down all their secondary supply lines to Lukaku. He starts drifting just to get touches on the ball and you have him trying to bully Lovren inside his own half on a 50/50 ball. Completely nullified.

In contrast, Liverpool. Mane is good at scoring goals. As is Firmino. And Salah. And Coutinho. How do you stop them all? At the moment our supply is out in Lallana & Coutinho, and yet we still make very dangerous things happen every single game with them both missing at the moment.

Another question - If Everton kept Lukaku, signed Seri to replace Barkley. How easy now would it be to cut the supply to Lukaku? Seri's production at Everton would likely be equal at best to Barkley. However, instead of someone who wants to be a star of the team worrying about his own numbers, Seri's entire focus is on the team. That Xavi-like game intelligence, movement and passing (albeit on a lower level ability wise).

Look at players in terms of a skillset rather than production. For a team to be effective, it needs a healthy mix of a variety of skillsets. For me, the most crucial one is players that can operate in tight spaces, offer penetration and an ability to destabilise a low block. We have lots of players who can score goals. Mane, Salah, Firmino, Sturridge, Origi, Solanke, Ings, Gini, Lallana, Coutinho - they all look good for 7+ goals per season. However, in terms of players who can link the front 3 to the rest of our team in a low block, we have Lallana, Coutinho then who? Woodburn maybe? Dhanda? Thus we end up needing to go around the block everytime. This worked against Palace, but the second your attacks have a  distinctive pattern, you are easy to stop as we demonstrated with Lukaku above.

Oxlade Chamberlain is something we don't have. A Lallana/Coutinho type player with that penetration in midfield coupled with pace. It is that little burst of pace that makes Coutinho more effective than Lallana in terms of playing through the lines of a team. Lallana has the skills to beat people but not really to then burn away from them. Sure, Lallana & Coutinho are both better, more complete players than Chamberlain now. But he still has that skillset we are sorely lacking in, and a unique approach to it that we lack. Keita offers that same skillset (and a fuckload of others) also. We need to add as many players as we can like this into our squad rather than finding reasons to just dismiss them, talk about signing DM's, more goalscorers, etc. Those things will not dictate how effective we are in the league. Our ability to break down a low block will. As Pep showed last season, and throughout his career, there are certain types of players who will help you in this pursuit. They look a lot like Chamberlain.

Part 2 - Can he unlock sides with creative passing?

I want to show the statistical output of Arsenal & Liverpool players in terms of their creative passing.

Key Passes(KP)/90 = This shows the number of goalscoring chances created per 90 minutes played. A goalscoring chance ranges from laying the ball off for a Coutinho shot 35 yards out or Firmino's cross to Can against Hoffenheim. Both = 1 Key Pass
Expected Assists(xA)/90 = This is the value of all goalscoring chances created per 90 minutes played. Effectively this is the likelihood of creating a goal every 90 minutes played. Laying the ball off to Coutinho to score a 35 yard screaming = xA 0,01. Firmino's cross to Can = xA 0,91.
xA/KP = This is the average value of the chances a player creates. A high score can mean the chances a player creates a typically good goalscoring chances. E.g. Welbeck created the least chances on this list, however the very few he created were good goalscoring chances. This should be looked at in conjunction with KP/90.
Assists/90 = This is actual output. How many assists were created on average per game played.

Anybody scoring orange/red in most if not all categories is a player who is highly involved in the teams creative output. Anybody who is red in multiple categories is showing an elite output. Anybody scoring very high in one category and low not in any others is likely an outlier and can be dismissed.

Player      Key Passes(KP)/90    Expected Assists(xA)/90   xA/KP   Assists/90Mesut Özil      2,88    0,26   0,09   0,28Philippe Coutinho      2,33    0,25   0,11   0,28Roberto Firmino      2,05   0,23   0,11   0,21Alexis Sánchez      1,9    0,25   0,13   0,28Sadio Mané      1,57    0,18   0,11   0,2Daniel Sturridge      1,52   0,19  0,13   0,12Jack Wilshere      1,48    0,13   0,09   0,09Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain     1,44    0,26   0,18   0,4Alex Iwobi      1,42    0,14   0,1   0,18Aaron Ramsey      1,39    0,32   0,23   0,29Adam Lallana      1,34    0,16   0,12   0,27Granit Xhaka      1,19    0,08   0,06   0,07Jordan Henderson      1,19    0,11   0,09   0,17Emre Can      1,18    0,08   0,07   0,08Santiago Cazorla      1,16    0,12   0,1  0,29Olivier Giroud      1,06    0,15   0,14   0,23Georginio Wijnaldum      1,03   0,16   0,16   0,27Divock Origi      0,8    0,1   0,12   0,19Francis Coquelin      0,76    0,03   0,04   0Theo Walcott      0,51    0,12   0,23   0,09Mohamed Elneny      0,39    0,02   0,04   0,13Danny Welbeck      0,36    0,14   0,39   0,24

Also wanted to show Dribbling on it's own because it's usually the most important element to breaking down a low block.

Player      Dribbles/90Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain         3,51   Alexis Sánchez         3,04   Philippe Coutinho         2,81   Sadio Mané         2,73   Jack Wilshere         2,72   Roberto Firmino         2,02   Daniel Sturridge         1,99   Theo Walcott         1,92   Alex Iwobi         1,72   Aaron Ramsey         1,46   Santiago Cazorla         1,31   Adam Lallana         1,27   Divock Origi         1,17   Mesut Özil         1,01   Georginio Wijnaldum         0,91   Francis Coquelin         0,91   Emre Can         0,8   Granit Xhaka         0,69   Mohamed Elneny         0,39   Danny Welbeck         0,36   Jordan Henderson         0,21   Olivier Giroud         0,15   
So, statistically speaking, he is perfect for our system in that Lallana/Coutinho role. Or in a wide forward role as a creative hub rather than a goalscorer. Which is fine as we have fucking tonnes of players who can finish.

Part 3 - Who is he similar to? Ibe? Barkley? Coutinho?

Chamberlain vs Ibe

Similar or nothing at all alike other than running fast past people with the ball?
Player      Key Passes(KP)/90    Expected Assists(xA)/90   xA/KP   Assists/90Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain      1,44    0,26   0,18   0,4Jordan Ibe      1,53    0,09   0,06   0,00
My eye test tells me Ibe is ineffective as he only knows how to run fast in straight lines rather than attack dangerous areas. Therefore his use is limited other than a counter attacking player in behind teams. Against a low block he will simply run down it's sides and across it's front. Nothing to destablize the shape of it and no other tools to use to break it down to fall back on. All he has is dribbling + pace. Stats back that up. He scouts as someone who creates a high volume of shite chances which nobody turns into goals.

Chamberlain vs Barkley

Similar or nothing at all alike other than their ability to complete passes in the final 3rd being similar and how often they touch the ball in the box?
Player      Key Passes(KP)/90    Expected Assists(xA)/90   xA/KP   Assists/90Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain      1,44    0,26   0,18   0,4Ross Barkley      2,35    0,22   0,1   0,25
My eye test tells me Barkley is technically excellent but tactically crap. He takes up poor positions. Can easily be removed from the game by encouraging him to play in lower risk areas. Allows himself to become detached from Lukaku too easily (see Kane-Alli for an example how that COULD work). Barkley needs a coach like Rafa to educate him tactically and mould him into a more complete player the way Rafa did with Gerrard. This isn't to compare their relative abilities or skills as players, mere just to show how Gerrard's weakness was addressed early on by Rafa in his career turning a very talented average output player into a world class high output player. The stats above tend to back that up.

He scouts as someone who creates a high volume of average quality chances which an elite finisher turns into goals. Does that sound accurate? Dribbles about half as much as Chamberlain too.

Chamberlain vs Coutinho

Similar or nothing at all alike? I would say Chamberlain is similar in terms of penetration & creativity but not the goalscoring. Which we don't actually need him for at all. We have people for that already.
What all this shows for AoC is that he is at elite or near elite levels for dribbling, attacking passing, passes into the box and expected assists per 90. Also above average in throughballs, open play chances created and touches in the box. He also rarely loses the ball despite an exceptionally high amount of dribbling. This all points to a lockpick type player. He is doing things in tight areas to an extremely high success rate. What this doesn't show is his pace, which makes all of that stuff far more effective. But we can see things like the pace of a player with a quick scouting job on youtube.

So if you are imagining a player who would want to move between the lines of a side, or to destabilize a low block, and try to imagine what things you would want them to do at very high volumes successfully - your are basically listening the things AoC is at elite levels at statistically speaking in order.
1. Dribbling. (especially his high success rate at high volume)
2. Attacking Passing (indicates a high volume of forward passing high up the pitch with a high success rate)
3. Expected Assists (indicates his ability to get the ball into goalscoring positions consistently to the right players)
4. OP(open play) Passes into the box (How many passes he completes in the opponents box. Our two elite players in the squad in this metric are Coutinho & Lallana).
5. Throughballs - self explanatory

You give Klopp that player, add pace on top, that is going to fuck teams up. Doesn't matter if he scores goals or not himself, that will ruin a low block. That is the 5 key numbers you would see if you looked at Silva, De Bruyne, Messi, Coutinho, Lallana, Isco... basically any player who would thrive against a compact defence. They offer other additional things too. But that is the platform that any lockpick needs to base the rest of their game around. Of course you need to scout the player too, just make sure those numbers align with what he does on the pitch. Chamberlain scouts very well also, as the video I will post below show also.

When you have someone putting up those numbers, and their every touch and compilation videos shows you the areas, consistency, pace and technique in which he is doing them, that is a player you can put to work in Klopp's system for sure in multiple roles.

Part 4 - I've seen the stats, but I don't know how that fits into our midfield

As mentioned, he has played a handful of times in central midfield, only two of which have every touch compilations. On of the problems he often encountered was he was usually played in a double #6 behind Ozil, or as an #8 beside Ramsey. Both players who have no discipline whatsoever and thus the midfield easily gets overrun. Plus he is a pressing player in a side who focus on shape for containment - as show against Bayern with his tantrum.

This is him playing as a #6 against Hull in a low block.

So compared to the Liverpool v Palace match you just watched some days ago, how would you describe the penetration of his passes from deeper areas? Doesn't do much dribbling here as he is a #6, the Henderson/Alonso role. Therefore it's more about passing through to the creative players than being one himself. However in that Palace game we failed to complete passes, or even touch the ball really, in zone 14 - the space central right in front of their goal. Instead we had to go round them in the absence of a player to go through them. While it worked that game, it does make our attack predictable and therefore unsustainable.

This is him playing as an #8 against Southampton. Some things to look at here in terms of facing a low block.
1) 0:56 plays through the midfield line centrally into zone 14. Something we did a grand total of 0 times against Palace.
2) Does it again at 1:17
3) 1:30 Long through ball resulting in goal.
4) 2:45 another chipped through ball
5) 3:00 Tactical dribbling. Losses the ball but the intent is to get around the midfield press then attack zone 14 to commit defenders. If you succeed at this 2 or 3 times per game, you are pretty much guaranteed 1 or 2 goals. This is a trademark Coutinho run.
6) 3:10 A diagonal forward ball from half space into zone 14. If the Arsenal player can escape the press here the entire Southampton defensive line collapses.
7) 3:22 - another long through ball this time splitting CB and FB. A toenail away from pulling it off too.
8.) 3:37 - another chipped through ball getting a player behind the defence on a counter.
9) 4:30 - dribble into the box, short through ball gets player behind the defence in the box ultimately resulting in a goal.
10) 5:20 - another chipped through ball over a low block in behind the defence in the box.
11) 6:07 - another through ball on the counter results in a 1-v-1

That is a long list of very penetrating touches. Even though it finished 5-0 in the end, he was doing those things at 0-0, set up the first goal, then continued doing them at 1-0 and onwards.

Watching that, can you see Klopp having a use for him in midfield? Do you see why many of us see him fitting in our midfield in Lallana's place during his injury and even long term given his age? And while yes, videos can make any player great, this is why you align it to stats to see if this output is something he produces consistently or a one off. The stats say he has consistent output in terms of creative passing, through ball, passes into the box, dribbles, etc.

This isn't cherry picking. He's literally played a handful of times in a central midfield last season and these are the only videos every touch that exist for him doing so. I cannot find any videos of his other 2 or 3 central midfield performances.

I like him.

I want to be clear though, I am not saying he is like, or a replacement for, Coutinho. I was demonstrating how he is a FAR more well rounded player than people give him credit for and closer to the level of Coutinho in that regard than the likes of Ibe or Barkley that have been trotted out as comparisons of "other shite English players".

They look nothing alike in terms of how they play when you watch them, however, the net result in terms of what they provide on the pitch in terms of breaking through the lines, playing in tight spaces, committing players in a low block, and creating good goal scoring chances for team mates are very similar.

He is obviously not without his weaknesses but then that is true of all players. We aren't trying to sign a 24 year old Steven Gerrard here. It's just a player with a skillset we need that is sorely lacking so far this season who will be useful for us to have going forward. He could grow into much more for Klopp, in the way Kevin Großkreutz did at Dortmund as a versatile player who was used more often than not. Who knows. It should be fun finding out with more meep meep than ever before in this side.


 Liverpool FC have completed the signing of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal.

The England international penned a long-term contract with the Reds after a medical was conducted at St George’s Park, where the 24-year-old is currently on duty with his country.

Oxlade-Chamberlain made 132 Premier League appearances for the Gunners during his six years in north London, and has 27 caps for the Three Lions to date.

The midfielder, the club’s fourth signing of the summer, bolsters Jürgen Klopp’s squad as Liverpool prepare to compete in three domestic competitions and the Champions League.

In a message to Reds fans after sealing the move, Oxlade-Chamberlain said: “I’m currently away with England, so I’m at St George’s Park. Firstly, I’m delighted to have signed for Liverpool and a big thank-you to everyone here at the FA that has made this possible, using the facilities. It has been a massive help.

“I’m not going to say too much today; I’m here with England and we’ve got two big games coming up, so I want to focus on them. But I can’t wait to get to Melwood and you’ll hear first from me on LFCTV.”

Welcome AOC.

Let's reach that potential in the next couple of years and win stuff!

Happy with this. I think he'll surprise a lot of people.

Welcome the OX can't wait to see you put on a red shirt. :wave


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