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The new Ronny? Why Oxlade-Chamberlain the circuit breaker flagging Liverpool needs

COMMENT: Eight points dropped from the last six games. Form which would have them equal NINTH on the table. Liverpool need a jolt. A circuit breaker. Something - or someone - to snap this slump.

Think Eric Cantona at Leeds United. Ian Snodin with Everton. Or Ronny Rosenthal and King Kenny's Reds. A late season signing. A player to step in. To lift the fans. The players. To make that much needed difference...

Of course, courtesy of FIFA and the FA's capitulation, such legends are no more. A player to arrive late. To inspire an unlikely title triumph. That's been ripped away from the English football fan. Or has it?

Possibly tonight. But definitely this week. Liverpool will get that circuit breaker. That new face. One to shake his teammates out of this sudden decline. Not a new signing. But the next best thing.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could make his first appearance for the season on Monday night against Everton U23s. But if the mini derby is deemed too soon, then the England midfielder will definitely see action on Friday against Derby. Either way, Ox is back - and just in time to get this title campaign back on its rails.

If Jurgen Klopp can play this right. If he can tap into the theatre. The drama of it all. Oxlade-Chamberlain's return will give everyone connected to LFC the jolt they need. To regroup. Reset. And gather themselves for that final title push.

Pencil in his comeback for Anfield. Capitalise on the raw emotion of it all. The eleven month wait. Kiev. The shattered World Cup dream. Bring it all to the surface. And then get him onto that pitch. Let him lift the crowd - and in exchange have the crowd lift him and his teammates. This is an opportunity money can't buy. A chance to wrest back momentum from Manchester City. To turn pressure into sheer goodwill. The story will write itself.

But there's more to this than simple affection. Of empathy for a player who lost so much so late, last season. This isn't the Oxlade-Chamberlain of Arsene Wenger and Arsenal.

This is the one of Liverpool FC. A player who was flying. Who was in career best form. A player who had Thierry Henry apologising. And one who had his former manager under the microscope for the way he'd been handled.

Oxlade-Chamberlain will return to Klopp's line-up. If everything goes to plan. As a first-choice. A goalscoring midfielder. A driver. A creator. A spark that has been missing from the Reds' engineroom these past six weeks.

“I think the biggest improvement and potential is being involved in goalscoring situations," Klopp said of the Ox just before Christmas in 2017. “It is unbelievable but he was not asked for this too much in the past.

“He has the obvious skills – shooting, both feet, speed. Where's the limit? I don't know."

At that stage, Oxlade-Chamberlain had just found his place in Klopp's system and was thriving. A couple of months later and the midfielder had his former coach at Arsenal, Henry, backtracking on early season criticism.

"I still don't know what he's good at," Henry had stated in the aftermath of Ox's £35m move from Arsenal. Claims the player would brand "stupid" after a man-of-the-match performance against Newcastle.

"Oxlade-Chamberlain deserves praise for what he's done during his short time at Liverpool so far," Henry said in response. "But we didn't see that clearly at Arsenal. There has always been a lot of debate as to what Oxlade-Chamberlain's best position is.

"For Liverpool, we are now seeing a midfielder that puts the pressure on the opposition at every opportunity, he wins the ball back, he scores goals and also gives assists."

The emotion is one thing. And it will be significant. But to get the same player back. The same Oxlade-Chamberlain who had Henry eating his words last March. And at this stage of the season. This really would be the stuff of Cantona or Rosenthal.

Liverpool will get that jolt this week. And just in time. Oxlade-Chamberlain's return is the circuit breaker Liverpool's flagging title push needs.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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