Kevin Phillips has lauded Jurgen Klopp’s use of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as a false-nine in the 1-0 victory for Liverpool against Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa, a tactic previously favoured by Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola.
The Englishman attracted some criticism online for his performance but appeared to post a solid shift in a role traditionally operated by link-up man Bobby Firmino.
“Oxlade-Chamberlain is a good player but he has not hit the heights expected at Liverpool,” the former golden boot winner told Football Insider.
“He has undeniable quality though. He can cause defenders problems in that false 9 position. By drifting into pockets he creates space for Salah and Mane.
“I think it was a clever move from Klopp, playing him in there. Guardiola does it all the time with his midfielders.”
The 28-year-old has featured more regularly this season, courtesy in part due to the injuries suffered in the middle of the park, having already more than tripled his playing minutes (920) from the prior campaign (286).
It’s clear that the former Arsenal ace has been more effective in a midfield role, though that’s far from criticising his level of contribution in the front-three, with the No.15 managing to cause the Villans some problems at the weekend.
That being said, we’d expect Diogo Jota, if completely fit, to be restored to the forward line for Newcastle United’s visit to Anfield.
With the player having been carefully managed by our improved medical team, it’s another great option for Klopp to have available over the course of a long season.