The Liverpool fans are full of confidence in the Transfer Tavern as they look forward to the second-leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash against Manchester City this evening.
Jurgen Klopp’s side stunned the footballing world last week when they recorded an emphatic 3-0 victory over Man City at Anfield – a result which has put the Reds firmly in charge of the tie with 90 minutes left to play. The game is only at the half-way stage, but without an away goal and facing the task of overturning a 3 goal deficit, it’s fair to say City have a mammoth task on their hands this evening.
One of the stars of the show last week, namely Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (valued at £27 million by Transfermarkt), was left out of Liverpool’s starting eleven against Everton on Saturday as Klopp rung the changes ahead of the second-leg tie. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s exclusion heavily implied that Klopp was saving him for the City match, and based on his performance in the first-leg its fair to assume that he will be restored to the starting line-up tonight.
The quality of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s performance will not only have a profound impact on Liverpool’s progression to the semi-final of the competition, but also on his chances of convincing Gareth Southgate that he merits a starting berth when England get their World Cup campaign underway against Tunisia on the 18th June 2018. Since moving from Arsenal last summer, the Ox – as he is affectionately known by supporters – has improved significantly and played a crucial role in Liverpool’s climb up the Premier League table in recent months.
His place on the plane to Russia is all but secure providing he does not suffer an unfortunate injury in the build-up to the tournament, but whether he will earn a place in Southgate’s starting line-up remains to be seen. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s performance in the first-leg was a timely reminder to the England manager that he possesses all of the attributes of a top quality box-to-box midfield player, and if he can demonstrate that once again tonight he might just secure a starting berth in Russia.
The World Cup is edging ever closer, and time is running out for players to alter Southgate’s thinking before the tournament swings around. However, Oxlade-Chamberlain has the benefit of playing in a high-intensity fixture which should reflect the level which England will have to match if they qualify for the knockout rounds of the World Cup, so he has a perfect opportunity tonight to produce an impeccable performance and prove he is worthy of starting in Russia this summer.
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