In our latest instalment of the Flashback series, we take a look back at a certain moment and look at how things might have changed those initial reactions.
On August 27th, 2017, Liverpool tore Arsenal to shreds with what BBC‘s Phil McNulty described as “a dazzling attacking display” to win 4-0.
Among the shell-shocked Gunners team that day at Anfield was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose performance at right wing-back came in for criticism from some quarters.
Sportskeeda‘s Shuvam Sinha wrote that he “was given a nightmare by Sadio Mane on the wing, unable to match the Senegalese for pace”, while the team at Pundit Arena said that he “couldn’t handle [Sadio] Mane at wing-back”.
Four days later, in an apparent case of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’, Oxlade-Chamberlain would no longer need to worry about the threat of Mane, with the England international swapping north London for Merseyside in a £35m deal, as reported by BBC.
When his signing was announced, plenty of Reds fans on Twitter struggled to summon enthusiasm for the news, with some disappointed that Virgil van Dijk had not arrived in that transfer window (he would end up at Anfield four months later):
Now for the important signing please pic.twitter.com/2Fko9LTWWK
— Matthew Ordish (@MattOrdish) August 31, 2017
I know right, I really don’t understand how can anyone be excited by him. Yeah he does have qualities, but in the end he does nothing
— Ivan Lfc Jovanović (@The_Koxy) August 31, 2017
Please VVD pic.twitter.com/IXIedO1b6V
— نواف (@Njk8_) August 31, 2017
Vvd & Lemar needed
— Shivam Rughani (@ShivamRughani) August 31, 2017
cute. can we get a proper signing now. tar
— Reece×6 (@LiV_erPool1) August 31, 2017
SIGN VAN DIJK
— Amzo (@Ameer6__) August 31, 2017
Oxlade-Chamberlain didn’t have the most auspicious of Liverpool debuts, coming on in the 5-0 thrashing by Manchester City in September 2017, but he would exact plenty of retribution on Pep Guardiola’s men later that season.
He netted the opening goal in the pulsating 4-3 win over the eventual champions that ended their unbeaten record in the Premier League that term (as per BBC) and came up with a superb 20-yard goal in the 3-0 hammering of City in the Champions League quarter-finals at Anfield.
He was frequently moved throughout the midfield by Klopp in the first half of the 2017/18 but settled into a central, more attacking role from February onward and it was one in which he thrived, with four assists in eight Premier League games in the final third of the campaign. [via TransferMarkt]
His solid displays for Liverpool raised the firm possibility of making England’s World Cup squad that summer (as per The Guardian‘s Andy Hunter) but, having injured his knee in a challenge with Aleksandar Kolarov in the Champions League semi-final first leg against Roma, that dream evaporated.
Oxlade-Chamberlain would not play again for 367 days, making his return as a substitute in a 5-0 romp over Huddersfield. He made his first start in 16 months in the 2-1 win at former club Southampton in the early weeks of this season and, having struggled to win back his place in the side, he scored his first goals in 18 months with his brace against Genk in the Champions League a few days ago.
Having found the net five times in his debut season at Anfield, that double in Belgium and the goal against his former club in midweek could soon see the 26-year-old to surpass that tally and rediscover the form which led him to the brink of England’s World Cup squad and saw him make hay against Liverpool’s current title rivals Manchester City.
If he can put City to the sword again on November 10th, perhaps those Reds fans who weren’t enthused about his signing two years ago would then view him in a very different light.
Liverpool fans, what did you make of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s signing at the time? Has he surprised you with the impact he has made at Anfield? Comment below with your views!
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