Liverpool supporters have been making all the noise in the Transfer Tavern in the last few days after seeing their side take a giant step towards the Champions League final courtesy of a 5-2 semi-final first leg victory over Roma at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s men swept aside Premier League champions Manchester City 5-1 in the quarter-finals to reach the last four for the first time since 2008, thus earning a clash with Italian giants Roma who came from 4-1 down to knock Barcelona out in the quarter-finals. And they will have to produce another miracle in Rome next week as braces from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino as well as a Sadio Mane strike secured an emphatic success for the Merseyside giants, although Roma do have some hope thanks to late goals from Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti.
Nonetheless, there are many jubilant and thrilled Liverpudlians in the Tavern at present, several of whom are very confident ahead of next week’s second leg, although some are wary given Roma have already come from three goals down before in the Champions League this season.
And the Reds will have to get the job done next week without influential midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as it has been confirmed that he will miss the rest of the season, and indeed the World Cup, with the injury he sustained during Tuesday’s victory.
As such, it will now be up to £27 million-rated Liverpool star Georginio Wijnaldum (as per Transfermarkt) to step up in the Englishman’s absence.
Ultimately, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s arrival from Arsenal back in the summer has somewhat pushed the Netherlands international down the pecking order at Anfield, with Wijnaldum earning just 24 Premier League starts so far this season, compared with the 33 he made last term.
And it was last term in particular in which the 27-year-old proved his Premier League credentials in playing a key part in Klopp’s midfield, be it breaking up play and providing a platform for the front players to perform, or indeed chipping in with six goals and nine assists from the midfield area.
And the Ox’s energy and dynamism will certainly be missed in the final few weeks of the season, but it will be up to Wijnaldum, who perhaps hasn’t been at his very best this season, to minimise the impact of the 24-year-old’s absence.
He did just that on Tuesday night when replacing the England international after just 18 minutes, but there are likely to be even further questions asked of the Reds midfield in the Stadio Olimpico next week given the glimmer of hope Roma have given themselves with those two late goals – Wijnaldum simply must be at his best in the Italian city.
There are some concerns among our resident Reds fans regarding the Dutchman’s displays away from home, but it is now up to the 27-year-old to step up in Oxlade-Chamberlain’s absence, as doing so could determine the success Liverpool have between now and the end of the season.
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