Naby Keita’s injury against Brighton on Saturday is yet another setback in a long series of problems for the Guinean. With this being his 12th injury since he joined Liverpool, there is growing frustration over his availability – paving the way for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to potentially prove he is worth the £35million the Reds paid for him in August 2017.
Keita had been in superb form of late prior to his withdrawal against the Seagulls.
Scoring in wins against Atletico Madrid, Manchester United and Crystal Palace, Keita has been a standout player for Liverpool throughout their unbeaten start to the current season.
Hitting his stride at just the right time, he scored two goals within a week with a howitzer against Atletico Madrid before the opener against United as Liverpool ran riot.
Yet his injury, coupled with Harvey Elliott’s continued absence following his setback in September, has given Liverpool food for thought over who will replace them.
And it appears Oxlade-Chamberlain seems to be the preferred option.
The former Arsenal midfielder has only started one Premier League game so far this season – in the 3-0 win against Norwich on the opening day of the season – although he has featured off the bench in Liverpool’s last three games.
He came on in place of Keita in the draw on Saturday, registering an assist for Sadio Mane to put the Reds 2-0 up before the Seagulls came back.
And his introduction comes at a time where James Milner, Fabinho, Thiago, Elliott and Keita are all injured – leaving Klopp with seemingly no other choice but to persist with the Englishman.
He has only scored one goal for the Reds since the start of last season, with a last-minute goal in a 3-0 win over Burnley in May.
And, with only three starts for the Reds in the league since the start of last term, his time has finally come to prove himself.
Like Keita, injuries have taken their toll on Chamberlain.
But his 35 England caps prove that he has undeniable quality, and this will be needed to guide the Reds through a tricky period.
Jurgen Klopp praised him in pre-season, claiming he could be a huge help to reclaiming the league title.
“I thought Ox was on fire!”, Klopp said to the club’s official website.
“The counter-pressing with Bobby (Firmino) and Oxlade was just really good and how it should be.
“It definitely helps when you are part of the sessions and you play in the game. Hopefully, he can stay fit and if they do, he can help us this season in a really positive way.”