James Pearce of the Athletic thinks Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ‘may have leapt into starting XI for City clash,’ but thinks ‘Naby Keita certainly didn’t do enough on Tuesday night to stake a claim for a start at the weekend’.
The respected journalist made the claim following Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over Genk last night, in which Ox started the game and grabbed the winner thanks to a sweetly struck left-foot shot.
In total, Ox has four goals in his past four games – becoming our fourth top scorer of the season in the process.
But Pearce didn’t think Keita did enough to warrant a potential start on Sunday. The Guinean had a decent first-half, in which he had lots of the ball and played it fairly simply – but faded as the game went on.
We thought he was decent, but would love to see him showcasing his actual ability. Keita can dribble, dart between players, turn on a six-pence, play forward – but a lot of the time he did things Jordan Henderson gets criticised for on a weekly basis: holding the ball for a while and then playing the easy pass.
In reality, Keita is probably obeying his manager’s orders, but Ox undeniably looks the more exciting, dynamic midfielder right now – and the one who has the genuine chance of displacing either Hendo or Gini Wijnaldum from the first-choice midfield trio.
For what it’s worth, we don’t think either will start at Anfield – but both will be options for the second-half in both winning and losing situations.